DA calls for greater liquor compliance

By Adv Boitumelo Babuseng, MPL, DA Provincial Spokesperson for Economic Affairs:

The Democratic Alliance hopes to see more raids on unlicensed taverns being conducted this weekend. The first port of call should be an unlicensed tavern operating with impunity in Boichoko, Postmasburg.

The unlicensed tavern operates next to a licensed tavern, which has caused the licensed tavern to collapse. The Northern Cape Liquor Board is fully aware of the unlicensed tavern, but has failed to act. The owner of the unlicensed tavern is said to be politically connected to the ANC.

We welcome the raids that were undertaken last weekend by the Northern Cape Liquor Board in conjunction with the department of Trade and Industry and the police. It is unfair to law-abiding citizens who pay their fees and comply with liquor laws when unlicensed taverns are allowed to operate freely.

But we cannot have raids only when national departments are here.

Compliance with liquor laws and regulations must be promoted throughout the year.

Yet the Northern Cape Liquor Board fails to ensure that there is regular compliance and enforcement campaigns in the province. It is the industry standard that a liquor outlet must be visited four to six times. So if you look at the 489 liquor licenses awarded in 2013/14, there should have been at between 1 956 and 2 934 inspections at licensed taverns only. The Liquor Board only conducted 1 902 compliance inspections.

A lack of funding is often used to excuse underperformance. The Liquor Board received R1.3 million less for the 2015/16 financial year than for the 2014/15 financial year. We are likely to hear again that a lack of financial resources is the reason why more compliance inspections will not be conducted. We cannot accept this excuse. The Liquor Board must be capacitated to fulfil its functions properly.

For far too long, the Northern Cape Liquor Board has been acting like a rubberstamping rather than a regulatory entity. It has especially lacked the capacity to monitor the occasional liquor licenses that have been granted.

Those who sell liquor illegally must know that they will be caught and that there will be consequences for failure to abide by the law.