The BELA Bill was first drafted in 2017 but was released for public comment in 2022.
The Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance upon its release criticised and called for the removal of clause 8 of the Bill. This stated that liquor could be sold at school functions and school premises for fund raising purposes.
We are delighted that the work of civil society organisations and communities has paid off and the Bill has now been adopted by the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education. We urge the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces to move with speed so that the president can sign it into law.
Children and youth are victims of alcohol harm through neglect from parents and other negative consequences of excessive drinking in their communities the suggested clause would add to an already unacceptable status quo. Considering the Enyobeni tragedy and the youth drinking crises the country is grappling with daily, this clause was hugely problematic.
The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education called submissions on the Bill as part of the public participation process. SAAPA SA made written and oral submissions to the committee, held several demonstrations across the country and launched a petition rejecting clause 8 of the Bill.
Communities from across the country were vocal on their rejection of the move and these collective efforts have now yielded a positive result.
“We are relieved that the clause which should not have been included from the onset is no longer part of the Bill.” said SAAPA SA’s Aadielah Maker Diedericks
Maker Diedericks added that government needed a comprehensive whole government approach to reducing alcohol harm, and it was important that all departments move in the same direction to reduce harm.
“We need all departments to put public health first and ensure policies are in line with Global responses to deal effectively with alcohol harm through implementing evidence based legislative changes that will make South Africa alcohol safer,” she added.
SAAPA SA continues to call for the urgent passing of the Liquor Amendment Bill of 2016 that has been stalled for several years. South Africa’s liquor laws will come under the spotlight next month when the Global Alcohol Policy Conference (GAPC) 2023, that will be taking place from 24 – 26 October in Cape Town.
SAAPA is the co host of GAPC 2023 which is the leading forum for the world’s alcohol policy makers, advocates, researchers, civil society activists and practitioners. With its high levels of heavy episodic drinking and related harms, and its long history of challenges in getting policy shifts in areas such as controls on alcohol marketing and retail sales of alcohol.
For more information contact:
Terri-Liza Fortein, Communication Manager SAAPA SA: email@example.com and 079 976 5489