Sunday liquor trade clarified – It’s Legal

Anthony Benadie, DA MPL

Spokesperson on Economic Development

Residents and Liquor Store owners across Mpumalanga, have been surprised (and confused) about the sudden systematic increase, in Liquor store trading taking place on Sundays, over the past few weeks.

Following extensive enquiries by residents, liquor store owners and the media about this occurrence, relating to the sale of alcohol for ‘off premise consumption on Sundays’, the DA took it upon itself to seek clarity on this matter.

Research conducted by the DA found that the following has taken place:

  • The Liquor Act 59 of 2003 came into effect on 13 August 2004.
    • The Act provides for the manufacturing and distribution of liquor to be regulated at national level while micro manufacturing and retailing continue to be regulated at provincial level.
    • According to Section 42 (1) of this Act: In respect of any matter affecting the retail sale and micro manufacturing of liquor, the Minister, after consultation with the council may make regulations in order to establish uniform norms and standards in the liquor industry. These norms are then communicated to the various provincial authorities so that all provincial regulations fall with the same regulatory framework.

In the case of Mpumalanga:

  • The province has enacted the “Mpumalanga Liquor Licencing Act (Act 5 of 2006)”, which is in charge of regulating micro manufacturing and retailing in the province. This act contains 69 sections. Sections 1 to 32 and section 69 were put into operation by means of a Premier’s Notice published in Provincial Gazette Extraordinary No. 1710, on 12 August 2009.
  • Within the stipulated time frame of these sections coming into operation, the then MEC for Economic Development and Planning Mr Craig Padayachee published Regulations made in terms of section 57 of the Mpumalanga Liquor Licencing Act, 2006 (Act No. 5 of 2006), for public comments. This was published as far back as 2008, and it is unknown why this process has taken so long, despite Sunday trade by liquor stores having been rumoured for some time. (Click here for Regulations)
    • Annexure 14 (B) of these regulations deal specifically with the retail sale of liquor for consumption ‘off the premises where the liquor is sold.’
    • These provincial regulations state that liquor for off premise consumption can be sold between 8am and 8 pm from Mondays to Saturdays, and between 10am and 5pm on Sundays and Public Holidays.
  • On 30 August 2014, Premier DD Mabuza, in his capacity as Premier of the Mpumalanga Province, determined this date, as the date for the coming into operation of sections 33 to 68 of the Mpumalanga Liquor Licencing Act, 2006 (Act No. 5 of 2006). (Click here for Act)
  • Further perusal of the Act reveals that section 46 deals directly with trading hours and states that: ‘Subject to the prescribed requirements, regulatory framework in respect of the terms and conditions and any other law, the Authority shall, when issuing a licence under this Act, restrict the days and hours during which a licenced person may sell liquor in terms of such licence, in accordance with the recommendation made by the Municipality concerned.’

Using this act and regulations, the DA then engaged the Department of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism. Through this engagement we were able to ascertain that by virtue of Premier Mabuza brining into operation sections 33 to 68 of the Mpumalanga Liquor Licencing Act, which includes section 46 that deals with trading hours, this allowed retailers to trade according to Annexure 14 (B) of the regulations.

We further found that although Section 46 of the Act empowers each municipality to determine trading hours in their jurisdiction, it emerged that a decision was taken to have all municipalities implement Annexure 14 (B) regulations as they are.

The nett result, as far as the DA can ascertain, the series of events outlined above and the bringing into operation further sections of the Mpumalanga Liquor Licencing Act, with the apparent concurrence of local authorities in Mpumalanga, the trading of liquor stores and the selling of liquor for off premise consumption, is now legal on a Sunday.

However, Considering the complexity of the above, the DA calls on and will write to the MEC for Economic Development, MEC Kholwane to please officiate this information through an official announcement by the department relating to the sale of alcohol on Sundays, in order to clarify any further confusion that may exist. In the interest of the liquor industry and the public at large, and to clarify any confusion that may exist within law enforcement agencies in the province, it is of utmost importance that the implications of the above and the now legality thereof, be effectively communicated to all stakeholders.