Hundreds of Western Cape liquor licence holders convene to drive responsible trading

This morning (20 October 2015) Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, addressed the Liquor Licence Holders Conference which took place at the Malmesbury Town Hall. The conference was the third engagement the Western Cape Liquor Authority has hosted with licence holders over the past month. Over 400 traders were reached during sessions in Parow, Claremont and Malmesbury.

Minister Winde’s address:

There are two sides to the alcohol industry.

We know that it is an important economic contributor.

The wine industry alone employs 300 000 people an adds over R30 billion to the economy annually. The Western Cape wine industry exports more than a million litres of wine to destinations around the world each day, bringing much needed foreign direct investment.

Wine tourism generates R6 billion, contributing to our thriving hospitality industry.

The positive side of this industry is that it provides space for businesses and entrepreneurs to create jobs for residents.

As part of our Project Khulisa growth strategy, we are seeking to grow the economic benefits of the industry by boosting wine exports to strategic destinations such as China and Angola.

At the same time, we are very aware that the abuse of alcohol is driving social harms.

Alcohol is the third-largest contributor to death and disability in our region. 70% of trauma victims in Western Cape hospitals test positive for alcohol, and an estimated 70% of crimes are linked to substance abuse.

In the Western Cape we conducted our own study, the High-Five project.

It included looking at the cause of injuries at trauma units in Khayelitsha, Nyanga and Elsies River.

The results showed that alcohol use was reported or suspected in over half (53.2%) of all violent injuries.

Alcohol-related injuries and illness cost the Western Cape Government R6 billion each year. This is R6 billion which could have been used for service delivery to improve the lives of our residents.

These harms are being driven by irresponsible suppliers, traders and consumers.

It is not only for government to take on the responsibility of the negative economy of alcohol. We need suppliers and traders to be responsible. We need citizens to be responsible.

The Western Cape Liquor Authority hosts information sessions with residents and traders across the country. I’m pleased to hear that more and more traders have approached the Authority to host more of these engagements.

This is an indication that the traders here today, and many others across the province, want to do the right thing.

As part of their awareness campaign, the Liquor Authority is seeking to hold over 100 engagements with liquor licence holders in this financial year.

In addition, information sessions will be hosted with communities, community policing forums, schools and neighbourhood watches. There will be a special outreach for new entrants into the industry so they are educated about liquor laws and their responsibilities in terms of the Western Cape Liquor Act.  We are also always seeking to make the legislation better, and are in the process of finalising amendments to the Act to reduce red tape, and make it easier for responsible traders to become fully compliant.

As policy makers, the Western Cape Government will continue to explore innovative ways to combat alcohol abuse in the province. To this end, the Premier will soon be launching an initiative aimed at reducing the harms associated with alcohol abuse.

We take our role in promoting a responsible industry very seriously, and are proud to be a part of building this together with you