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.
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 were vocal on their rejection of the move and these collective efforts it is hoped will ensure a positive result. The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education met in Cape Town today and despite media reports suggesting that the clause may be scrapped the Bill has not been signed off.
“We are hopeful that this clause which should not have been included from the onset will be removed once deliberations on the Bill are concluded .” 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 and ask Government to move with speed to ensure that the BELA BILL is signed off without clause 8.
The longer the Bill takes to be singed off the more at risk children are.
For more information:
Terri-Liza Fortein, Communication Manager SAAPA SA: email@example.com and 079 976 5489