“On the one hand we’ve got a public health agenda that needs to be considered as a serious result of alcohol misuse. On the other hand we’ve got some serious economic considerations and impacts that have to be considered in light of what the bill will do in terms of jobs, GDP and, indeed, sports sponsorships,” Brandhouse’s public policy manager Joe Heshu told CNBC Africa.
“There has to be a case where the left hand talks to the right hand to see what it’s
doing. We’re seeing cabinet colleagues, over the development of this bill, not expressing the same particular interests.”
South Africa’s alcohol industry is currently operating in a challenging, ever-changing environment. Heshu indicated that in order to ensure an effective industry, there needs to be proper communication between both the government and participants in the country’s alcohol industry.
“Our response to the government is to say, yes, we agree that there is a problem with alcohol misuse and that we should address that problem. We are advocating for interventions that target specific areas of alcohol misuse, whether that be underage drinking or drunk driving. Let’s sit around the table and let’s see what we can do to alleviate those problems,” he explained.
“We are looking forward to have a fruitful discussion with government over the
provisions of the bill once it’s gazetted.”
Heshu added that there are initiatives in place as well as initiatives being rolled out by the industry to aid in the minimisation of alcohol abuse.
“The industry has a number of projects, through the industry association of
responsible use for alcohol and through the members themselves – South African
Breweries, Brandhouse, Distell and the likes. There are initiatives, whether it
be responsible drinking, alcohol abuse, foetal alcohol syndrome, that are being
rolled out by the industry,” he said.
“The question is whether more can be done, whether we should be looking into
public-private partnerships, working with the government to enhance the effects
of those programmes to enhance their reach.”