Western Cape to toughen alcohol controls

The six billion rand generated by the Western Cape alcohol industry is a paltry sum, not worth it when compared to the billions in lost revenue, and the deaths, violence and brain-damaged children that are a result of alcohol.

This is what is at the heart of proposed new alcohol legislation in the Western Cape Government’s Alcohol Harms Reduction Policy White Paper, published recently, showing that the provincial government means business.

A tough approach to drunken driving, including the increased use of Random Breath Testing (RBT) in traffic enforcement operations, clamping down on illicit shebeens, measures to combat underage drinking, and alcohol price hikes are among the legislation mooted.

The liquor industry was up in arms when the proposed legislations was first revealed in the government’s Green Paper last year and are likely to make a noise again when the white paper is debated in the provincial legislature.

Controversial proposals include increasing the price of alcohol through increasing excise tax or introducing minimum unit pricing, and a provincial tax will also be considered.

Another policy likely to raise the blood pressure of alcohol traders is the proposed lobbying for a national ban on alcohol advertising that is visible to any persons under the age of 18.

Also, the policy proposes taking steps to bring unlicensed liquor outlets into the regulated space in “a sustainable and responsible manner”.

A spokesman for the Western Cape premier’s office Michael Mpofu said that while the importance of the alcohol industry was acknowledged, the economic contribution was “dwarfed by the costs of alcohol-related harms”.

He said that the general focus of current legislation does not adequately take into consideration the impact of alcohol-related harms on society

According to data presented in the white paper from a report by Statistics South Africa, the South African Demographic and Health Survey 2016, alcohol was identified as the fifth leading risk factor for death and disability in South Africa that contributes substantially to the top 10 risk factors.

Alcohol-related harms include brain development impairment in children and adolescents, and links to increased violence, transport-related deaths and suicide

According to the white paper, the financial cost of alcohol-related harms to the South African economy was estimated at a net loss of approximately seven to ten per cent of the GDP or between R165 to R236-billion in 2009.

The World Health Organisation ranks South Africa as the country with the highest per capita alcohol consumption in Africa. Alcohol risk contributes significantly to four of the five major components of the Western Cape Burden of Disease pattern.

Policy analyst Professor Charles Parry of the Medical Research Council said that growing evidence meant it “could not be business as usual for the liquor industry”. He said the white paper “squarely recognises that alcohol causes harm to the drinker and others”. He described it as the most far-reaching regional policy he had ever seen but added that, once passed, it needed some life breathed into it.

This meant setting priorities in implementing it, ensuring a proper budget and good leadership to drive the process with accountability.

“The province really does need the Alcohol Harms Reduction white paper to be passed in the legislature without being watered down,” he said. DM





Cape Town and Western Cape ready to welcome 2 million more international tourists

Cape Town and the Western Cape is open for tourism and is ready for a bumper peak season, which promises to be the best yet. International arrivals have grown by an unprecedented 27% year-on-year for the first half of 2017, and we anticipate two million more international passengers this year.

Wesgro commends our stakeholders, the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape provincial government, for the steps they have taken to reduce water consumption and ensure supplies last through the tourist season.

We therefore encourage tourists from the rest of South Africa and abroad to visit our beautiful city and province this year, and be water wise when doing so.

In this regard, we wish to thank all of our partners in the tourism sector that have taken proactive steps to reduce their water demand during this critical time.

For more information on how establishments or guest can contribute to this effort, please see the attached Wesgro infographics.

Interested visitors can also make use of the City of Cape Town’s water-usage calculator, to see how they can get their water usage below 87 litre per person per day.

The Western Cape has many diverse offerings from the Cape Winelands to the Cape Karoo. To find out about what more you can do during this summer season, visit our Discover Cape Town and the Western Cape website.





Crisis puts waste water treatment under the spotlight

There are many opportunities for the treatment of waste water in South Africa, but the uptake of these opportunities has been slow, according to Carl Haycock, managing director of Talbot & Talbot, which offers expertise in the provision of sustainable water and wastewater solutions across Africa.

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