New push for stricter alcohol laws in South Africa – here’s what could change

The Democratic Alliance has called on government to introduce the Liquor Amendment Bill as a means of grappling with the country’s alcohol-related problems.

The DA’s Dean Macpherson said that the draft legislation has effectively been stuck in cabinet for the last four years, despite having the potential to introduce a number of regulations which could reduce the damage caused by excessive alcohol consumption in the country.

“While not perfect, the bill will allow MPs to work towards dealing with issues like access to liquor by minors and provinces being able to levy taxes on sales to fund cost recovery models, ” he said.

This view is supported by Southern Africa Alcohol Policy Alliance (SAAPA) director Maurice Smithers, who told TimesLive that the bill should be fast-tracked alongside new regulations around drunk driving.

“Government themselves acknowledge that there is an issue with the way alcohol is consumed, and it is now critical. We are baffled as to why they don’t take the tools they already have and deal with this problem,” Smithers said.

The Draft Liquor Amendment Bill proposes a number of wide-reaching changes including:

  • Increasing the drinking age to 21 years;
  • The introduction of a 100-metre radius limitation of trade around educational and religious institutions;
  • Banning of any alcohol sales and advertising on social and small media;
  • The introduction of new liability clause for alcohol-sellers.

New alcohol rules in South Africa by December

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula says that government will introduce new legislation around drinking and driving by December 2020.

Mbalula said that the Road Traffic Amendment Bill was introduced in parliament in June 2020, with the legislation effectively introducing a 0% alcohol limit for all motorists.

The minister said that under the amended act, no one will be able to drive a vehicle, or occupy the driver’s seat while the engine is running, with any concentration of alcohol in their system.

“Research conducted by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) in collaboration with the South African Medical Research Council and the University of South Africa shows that driver alcohol intoxication accounts for 27.1% of fatal crashes in the country.”

“This is estimated to cost the economy R18.2 billion annually,” Mbalula said.

“As indicated by this study and many observations including the recent death of TMPD officers, we need to strengthen the law and ensure that Innocent lives are saved.”

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New push for stricter alcohol laws in South Africa – here’s what could change