Free Market Foundation Savages Planned Liquor Laws

Leon Louw of the Free Market Foundation has warned that planned new ZA liquor laws would make it almost impossible to sell the stuff, and would reverse all the reforms we have seen since the toppling of apartheid. He gave a very lengthy lecture to the media about the plans, and urged everyone to register their opposition to the Trade and Industry Department (dti’s) draft and daft legislation. Here are a few highlights from his talk.

– ANC in opposition was for tolerance and human dignity. That has changed, with intolerance, authoritarianism, puritanism, control, restriction, disrespect for human choice, erosion of civil liberties. This is a shift back to the past. The liquor laws were drafted by the ghost of Verwoerd.
– Soon we will be following N Korea with daily compulsory exercise (joke).
– Apartheid liquor policy was controlled by this same law which is being amended.
– Total prohibition on liquor sales to black South Africans until early 1960s.
– In the new SA there is a tolerance of taverns and shabeens. Now it is proposed that zoning will happen, making it impossible for a lawful liquor outlet to operate.
– Restriction of advertising will hit the consumer, and there will be a barrier to new entry
– This measure is close to a full prohibition of liquor throughout SA. May mean no lawful liquor trade in SA.
– We support education and awareness
– Proposals say there should be no trade within ½ km of schools. Same with places of worship – means the end of communion wine? Is there somewhere in SA which is ½ km from all of these? It includes rehabilitation centres, recreation facilities. So no licence for bowling clubs, sports stadiums. Or for residential areas. This will affect hotels and restaurants. Also mentioned in the draft law are public institutions – but these are not defined.
– Also not near petrol stations or public transport – a bus route? An airport?
– Did whoever wrote this think about it? It is a weird set of provisions.
– What about hotels? The hotel is liable if anyone gets drunk there.
– Same with black areas.
– Current legal outlets will have two years to close. But what if you operate legally and someone opens a church, establishes a bus route?
– This will have the opposite effect of promoting the entry of black South Africans into the liquor industry.
– The restriction of no sales to under 21 year olds is bizarre. I have been to Indonesia, and it is as if their restriction has disappeared. In SA this law will be ignored. This is a patronising and odd thing.
– Advertising and marketing will be restricted or banned.
– Unintended consequences include disruption to the catering industry, to small business. There are also constitutional issues. This would compromise human dignity.
– The obvious alternative is complete deregulation.
– We may see new restrictions on tobacco, sugar, salt, fast food and cars.

A lot of sense was spoken by Lowe, and his message would have been clearer if it had been double distilled, as he did tend to ramble a bit and then opened the floor of what was supposed to be a press conference to a series of tedious lobbyists. The hosts offered coffee and fizzy drinks, and no booze, but fortunately the ZA Confidential First Aid Kit (a hip flask of gin) was at hand.

Tweets of the Day:
Bill Murray (@BiIIMurray): I’m not saying I’m old and worn out, but I do make sure I’m nowhere near the curb on trash day.
Georg Grey (@Georg_Grey): How many surrealists does it take to screw in a light bulb? A fish.

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