The Western Cape Liquor Traders Organisation (WCLTO) has lambasted the provincial government for its new liquor regulations, saying they were part of the DA and Premier Helen Zille’s “agenda to shut down” black and coloured-owned businesses in townships.
The organisation charged they were never consulted before the regulations were passed, despite the direct impact they would have on their businesses.
The regulations approved by the provincial legislature in May take effect from July 1.
The Western Cape government believes the changes will allow the province to take the “toughest stance to date” against the irresponsible and illegal sale of liquor, which it cited as a major contributor towards alcohol-related harm in the Western Cape.
According to the provincial government, seven public consultation sessions were held between January 27, 2017 and February 7, 2017 across the province.
Zille had said amendments to the regulations include a maximum penalty for non-compliance that the Liquor Licensing Tribunal (LLT) may issue was increased from R20 000 to R100 000. She said liquor inspectors were compelled to issue notices of non-compliance to all illegal outlets. Previously, liquor inspectors inspected only licence holders, while law enforcement dealt with the illegal outlets.
The WCLTO say the regulations are an attempt to limit their economic participation. They want the regulations scrapped and a new process established.
“As a result of the policies and regulations of this racially biased provincial government, a list of would-be official business players are prevented from acquiring relevant licences. Most amazingly and absurdly, these amendments empower Western Cape Liquor Authority inspectors to enter the premises of these aspiring holders. What if the person has been subjected to a ‘constructive denial’ of a licence?” said WCLTO provincial secretary Lefa Mapilo.
“For far too long we have watched and been complicit in our own oppression, as witnessed in the continual spatial apartheid. This government can rest assured we are not going to sit back and allow economic apartheid to apply to us.”
Community Safety MEC Dan Plato said more than 160 comments were received on the regulations, and all were considered accordingly.
He said his office never received any complaints from the WCLTO.
“The Western Cape has a serious problem with alcohol. The abuse of substances in this province and alcohol in particular is considered to be one of the key causes of car crashes and interpersonal violence.
“It is unfortunate the complainant does not seem to be aware of the limitations of the provincial liquor act, or the differences between the spheres of government, when it comes to regulation of alcohol.”
Plato urged the organisation and its members to desist from operating outside the confines of the various laws.
PHOTO: TOUGH STANCE: Helen Zille