Plans afoot to track compliance, eradicate illicit alcohol in Gauteng: Lesufi

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Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi has announced plans to migrate the liquor licence applications to an online platform. Lesufi hosted a stakeholder engagement with businesses and role players in the provincial liquor industry.

The process formed part of efforts to bring into focus issues affecting the sector including safety, corruption, illicit alcohol and the lack of proper documents to trade hampering economic progress.

He says the move will help transform the sector and ensure better compliance.

Lesufi also says plans are afoot to introduce a new technologically advanced regime that will help track compliance and eradicate illicit alcohol.

“Let’s not rush it, let’s consult the sector let’s work with the sector to see if there are concerns, let’s talk to them but from the 1st of November we are migrating this sector is clean and is legitimate. So from the 1st, our wardens will be dispatched to illegal operations, so we don’t see new people trading illegally in our province. So when we automate we can hold each other accountable you check us and we look into you whether you are complying.”

About a thousand role players in the Liquor industry from across the province gathered in a quest for intervention that will ensure compliance, safeguard their industry and see the economy get the best out of this sector. They want the premier to intervene to ensure that applications for liquor trade are fast-tracked and ensure better compliance.

President of the  Gauteng Liquor Forum, Fenny Mokoena says, “The challenges we have are the shebeen permit, remember when our members were issued the shebeen permits in 2003, it was supposed to be for 12 months and it be converters in a licence, people have been carrying that for 20 years.”

CEO of the Drinks Federation of South Africa, Angela Russell says, “The alcohol industry is a large contributor to the economy and we have entrepreneurs contributing about 175 billion to the South African economy as a whole. Regulation is important as we’ve seen underage drinking in some of our taverns.”

Driving harm reduction

Organisation aware.org’s Carmen Mohapi says, “Our sole mandate is driving harm reduction that means no to under 18s, no more binge drinking, no more drinking and driving. There are too many harmful ways that alcohol is being used in this country and we need to bring it to an end and the only way we can do that is coming together.”

The liquor industry is said to contribute R 7 billion into the Gauteng economy and officials believe it needs to be protected to thrive. They all agree that traders cannot turn a blind eye on many social ills, triggered by poor compliance by some liquor traders.

Gauteng MEC for Economic Development, Tasneem Motara says, “We call on everybody in this room to be able to come together towards looking forward with those goals in mind, that we are all able to contribute positively to the economy, positively to the economic impact, positive to the rands and cents, and what the liquor industry can do in a positive manner in the economy, but also to make sure that we reduce those risks for the industry to thrive as a whole.”

The Gauteng Liquor Board has called for concerted efforts that help revive the sector.

Chief Director of the Gauteng Liquor Board, Fati Manamela says, “The issue of shebeens is a historical issue, but we have made strides in addressing the whole issue of regulation. We are at a stage where we have almost finalised all issues of engagement. We have set up a body that will see transitions from shebeens to a well-regulated tavern, club, pub or an outlet that will trade within the ambit of the liquor trade act. We are now at a stage where we will publish the regulations.”