Remarks by Eastern Cape MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism Hon. Lubabalo Oscar Mabuyane

written byPumlani Fani

Remarks by Eastern Cape MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism Hon. Lubabalo Oscar Mabuyane at the Liquor Board and Aware.org collaboration held at the East London Golf Course on August 07, 2018

Mayor of Buffalo City Metro
Chairperson of the Eastern Cape Liquor Board
President of the Liquor Forum
HOD for DEDEAT
CEO of Eastern Cape Liquor Board
CEO of Aware.org
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen

Good Morning,

Let me welcome the opportunity to come and address this very important gathering which is aimed at formalising the partnership between the Eastern Cape Liquor Board and Aware.org. I must say your new name and branding is sending all the good vibes, hopefully we can match those vibes with tangible outcomes.

Programme Director, earlier this year during his State of the Nation Address President Cyril Ramaphosa made a clarion call to South Africans from all walks of life to answer the Thuma Mina.

Citing inspirational words from the song of the late Jazz Musician Hugh Masekela, he said:
I wanna be there when the people start to turn it around
When they triumph over poverty
I wanna be there when the people win the battle against AIDS
I wanna lend a hand
I wanna be there for the alcoholic
I wanna be there for the drug addict
I wanna be there for the victims of violence and abuse
I wanna lend a hand
Send me.

I am certain that as partners in the Liquor Industry you are here this morning to say Mr President, we are with you Send Us.

As government we are highly concerned by the abuse and mis-use of liquor beverages by some of your consumers as this is eroding the moral fiber of our society, thereby overshadowing the phenomenal contributions of the industry to our economy and job creation in particular.

A research study conducted by the Eastern Cape Liquor Board in 2015, revealed that our Province is the fourth largest contributor to the liquor industry at around R8 billion on household expenditure on liquor beverages. This accounts for 4.27 % of total consumption expenditure by households in our province. I see that for once, as a province we refuse to be number last like we do in other socio-economical audits.

Unfortunately, this is inconsistent with current rankings in terms of our economic development standing, as we are ranked among the poorest provinces in the country. Therefore, something drastic needs to be done to turn around this situation and we rely on the Liquor Industry to become active and willing partners in our pursuit of sustainable economic development in our province.

The study also shown that the liquor industry contributes 11500 permanent employment opportunities in the province, a number that can easily reach 25000 if we add temporal and seasonal employment opportunities. Furthermore, the industry also contributes significantly to the National Fiscus through Sin-Tax which is at 59 %, Corporate Tax at 24 %, and Personal Income Tax at 11 %. As you would know these contributions are invested back into our economy to enable provision of services in education, health and economic development initiatives among others.

Despite these positive contributions, we must collectively find answers to the harmful effects of alcohol abuse in our province. These include underage drinking, irresponsible trading and foetal alcohol syndrome.

Programme Director, underage drinking and irresponsible trading go hand in hand. As the youth of today would say, they are the same whatsup group. One Sunday morning I was travelling with my wife to church in Mdantsane. It was around 8 am in the morning. As we were driving we saw long ques of parked vehicles either side of the road in Unit 3. My wife remarked: “This is going to be a big funeral. I wonder who is this famous person that has passed on.”

Just as I was about to agree with my wife, two young men stumbled across the street heavily drunk holding more alcohol in their hands. I couldn’t help but ask a passer-by what was going on. He told me that there is a liquor outlet there and all the vehicles that I see on the street were there since the previous day.

We discovered that the outlet is operating 24 hours a day, thus the patrons have not gone home. My wife and I were shocked and this ruined our church mood for that Sunday. We must ask ourselves what kind of a nation are we building if we are going to sell liquor to our young men and women non-stop 24 hours a day?

Equally, we must get to the bottom of why there is suddenly an increase in the number of young people who indulge irresponsibly in liquor beverages, while as a nation we are concerned about the high unemployment rate that is affecting our youth. Where are they getting the money to spend the whole night in a liquor outlet.

So the entire industry should question the ethics of some liquor outlets and traders, thus we are working to finalise the Liquor Bill as it will help to improve regulation of the liquor industry in the province. I am glad to see that the Eastern Cape Liquor Board and Aware.org have agreed to collaborate in the areas of underage drinking and liquor trader’s development programme. We must henceforth see effective programmes that will have the desired impact on the ground and we should be able to measure the impact of such programmes.

Firstly, I would also like to urge that when we develop such programmes, we must think out of the box. For instance, if we are to embark on implementing sport programmes for the youth. The simple distribution of sporting equipment and kits is old age and it does not derive impact.

We need to ensure that we do not organise the youth to play sport for fun. Sport has a potential to get our young people out of poverty and away from indulging in alcohol beverages from an early age. This therefore calls for an ambitious programme where Aware.org and Liquor Board can start a sport academy in partnership with established sporting organisations to ensure that our youth play sport knowing that they can have a career in sport than using it as a hobby.

This academy should not focus on one sporting code and should also prioritise young people from both our urban and rural communities. I don’t think this is too much to ask from the industry as there is currently no academy of that nature in the country. It should start here in the Home of Legends, the Province of Nelson Mandela and Mama Albertina Sisulu. Industry must agree here today to this proposal so that in the annals of history it can be written that in 2018 when South Africa was celebrating the centenary of Tata Nelson Mandela and Mama Albertina Sisulu, the liquor industry as represented by Aware.org and the MEC for Economic Development agreed to start a multi-code sports academy. It is doable.

Programme Director, alcohol abuse is not limited to our young people. If you can go to Duncan Village now, you will be shocked to see middle aged women and men indulging in alcohol beverages at this very hour. Even more frightening, is an increase in Foetal Alcohol Syndrome cases which is prevalent in women who indulge in alcohol during pregnancy. They are not only risking their own lives but are also depriving the child they are carrying a healthy life. This FAS is highly prevalent in our Metropolitan Municipalities especially in Nelson Mandela Metro. We need to be vigorous with our awareness campaigns and television dramas might be an effective way of putting our messages across on this matter. In addition to that we must engage communities that are affected by high levels of alcohol abuse in productive activities.

Last year we hosted a Provincial Liquor Summit and in that summit there was an outcry about lack of transformation in the Liquor Industry. On Sunday I posted in my facebook account that I will be meeting with you today. A number of my facebook friends asked me to raise the issue of transformation. It would be amiss of me therefore if I do not raise such concerns with the captains of the liquor industry. The empowerment of black suppliers in the liquor industry value chain should also form part of the social upliftment programmes of the industry. Many of my facebook friends are keen to participate on the production side of the liquor industry as they have acres of land that could be used to plough some of the raw material that the industry is using in its production processes. This way we would move the majority of our black owned SMMEs from the bottom of the supply chain to the forefront of production. This in a way would answer the question posed by Professor Lumumba during the Annual Nelson Mandela Lecture where he asked: “How is it that our continent that is so endowed produces what it does not consume and consumes what it does not produce.” This is a reality in many of our communities.

That must change and this partnership is a first step towards streanghting our efforts of not only alleviating the scourge of alcohol abuse in our province, but is also an opportunity to drive economic empowerment programmes. As an MEC for Economic Development I have a passion for the development of young entrepreneurs. I challenge the industry to broaden its social upliftment scope to include an SMME development agenda targeting sectors that are even outside your area of operation. Our economy needs manufactures of goods and on a daily basis we get plenty of bankable proposals. I am sure you would find many of these proposals very attractive to invest in. Please answer the Thuma Mina call in this regard.

As I conclude let me once again appreciate this initiative and we hope that next year we would be able to meet in this fashion to look at how far we have gone in implementing the programmes we have agreed upon. Time for talking is over, we must now do, that is what Thuma Mina is all about and we are aware that Aware.org is capable of rising to all the challenges I have raised.

I thank you.

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