Minister Davies, tear up the draft Liquor Bill now

Monday, 31 October, 2016, Michael Fridjhon
The draft Liquor Bill infringes on the rights of the provinces, effectively expropriates property rights and aims to impose vicarious responsibility on producers for the abuse of their products by consumers. It’s an insane piece of legislation.

There’s an oldish adage which says that anyone at 20 who is not a socialist has no heart, and anyone at 40 who is still a socialist has no head. From this you can safely conclude that Rob Davies, our Minister of Trade and Industry, is in an arrested state of development. In the presence of overwhelming evidence that the policies enforced by his department have made a major contribution to the contraction of our economy, he remains steadfast in his commitment to the principles with which Joe Stalin set back the Soviet Union by 50 years.

His latest sally into the field of taking a working industry and wrecking it is a draft liquor bill published for comment at the end of September with an end-October deadline. It contains almost all of the controversial clauses of the discussion document issued a year ago – which is a clear indication that no one at the DTI ever had any intention of taking cognisance of feedback. This in turn suggests that it would be futile for interested parties to engage now – on this ridiculously short notice deadline.

Many of the issues proposed last year and enshrined in the bill are unlikely to pass muster when the act is brought before the Constitutional Court – which is inevitable. It infringes on the rights of the provinces, it effectively expropriates property rights and it aims to impose vicarious responsibility on producers for the abuse of their products by consumers.

One glimpse of these conditions – together with a few comments issued with the bill – tells you that much of what is on the table is a grandstanding gesture to a significant portion of the ANC’s constituency which has deeply ingrained prohibitionist inclinations. The information adduced to support the repressive nature of these proposals is unsupported by peer-reviewed publications – but is offered as incontrovertible facts by the DTI.

It’s worth going through a few of the choicer comments. We are told in the release accompanying the draft bill that Minister Davies says that South Africa “has the highest level of alcohol consumption in the worldat 10-12% as compared with the world average of 6%.” (My italics) Half of this comment is entirely nonsensical – which doesn’t mean that Rob Davies didn’t make it, but it suggests that he hasn’t focused on literacy when it comes to employing the staff responsible for putting out the policy statements which accompany legislation which could have a profound impact on the economy.

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Trudie Webb

Trudie joined in 2016. She comes from an academic background and took on the Content Editing role with such aplomb that she was appointed to the Wine News Editor & Social Media Management role. She has a weak spot for good Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, is a sucker for a pretty label and  has a love for the interesting stories behind the wines and the people who make them.