Government should not be helping the liquor industry to sell more alcohol to the detriment of South Africans

South Africa’s alcohol harm challenges are many. The harmful use of alcohol causes a high burden of disease and has significant social and economic consequences.

Harmful use of alcohol can also result in harm to other people, such as family members, friends, co-workers and strangers. It is a causal factor in more than 200 diseases, injuries and other health conditions. Drinking alcohol is associated with a risk of developing health problems such as mental and behavioural disorders, including alcohol dependence, and major noncommunicable diseases such as liver cirrhosis, some cancers and cardiovascular diseases. A significant proportion of the disease burden attributable to alcohol consumption arises from unintentional and intentional injuries, including those due to road traffic crashes, violence, and suicide.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2018 reported that whilst only 31% of South Africans drink, two thirds of those who drink, drink heavily. And that 74% of young men and 38% of young women between the ages of 15-19 years old who drink, drink heavily.

Government should be doing all it can to reduce the impact of alcohol harm, this is why the Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance in South Africa is gravely concerned about the Deputy Minister of Social Development Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, offering Heineken a branding and marketing opportunity as it takes services to the people.

Zulu, will in collaboration with Heineken SA host a community social mobilisation campaign to raise awareness on the dangers and risks associated with alcohol on Friday, 21 April in Midvaal, Gauteng Province. 

The campaign seeks to raise awareness and educate community members on the dangers of alcohol in and around the Heineken Sedibeng Brewery, where Pillies Farm, Boitumelo and Khayelitsha residents are located, and employees of the giant brewery reside. It is also aimed at engaging residents about alcohol as a social and structural driver of HIV/Aids chronic disease, Gender Based Violence and Femicide pandemic and other social ills such as teenage pregnancy.

On the day, community members will have access to various government services and assist communities in accessing different services and interventions on matters affecting their daily lives. Community members will also have access to support measures such as the registration and compliance of Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs), including, services for persons with disabilities.

Government resources and services are being usurped by Heineken to go into a community where they have a plant to generate profit for themselves. This move by the deputy minister following a cabinet endorsed decision requesting all ministers not to partner with the industry is worrying and not in the best interest of the people she is meant to serve.

Aaadielah Maker Diedricks the strategic advisor for SAAPA SA said: The ministry of social development is one of the ministries who deals with the consequences of alcohol harm i.e. child neglect and abuse, GBV, alcohol dependency, victims of car crashes and many more. It is therefore unclear what the gain is of such a collaboration. We are baffled and we are calling on government to immediately stop any collaborations with those in the liquor industry.”

  • The alliance wants government to
  • Stop all partnerships with the alcohol industry
  • Re-instate the Inter-ministerial committee on substance abuse and to urgently develop a cohesive and coordinated strategy to reducing alcohol related harm.
  • Urgently adopt the liquor amendment bill of 2017
  • Remove the clause in the BELA Bill that proposes that schools can apply for liquor licenses.
  • Stop granting forecourt shops at petrol stations licenses to sell alcohol

We cannot have a situation where some government entities are working to reduce alcohol harm and others are promoting increased alcohol use amongst South Africans.

Government must adopt evidence-based legislation that reduces availability, restricts advertising and increases the price of alcohol which will contribute to changing the environment in which people drink and therefore shift the drinking culture and reduce alcohol harm.    

For more information or interview requests, please contact:

Terri-Liza Fortein, Communications, SAAPA SA or 079 9765 489 or SAAPA SA