On Sunday City Press reported that the State has proposed a new drinking age for South Africa. According to the National Liquor Policy published in the Government Gazette the new proposed drinking age is 21 years old. The current drinking age for South Africa is 18 years and has been so for many. Also, in 2005 the South African majority age was lowered from 21 to 18 years of age. This meant that persons were now considered an adult at the age of 18, which allows them to get married, enter into contracts, etc without their parents’ or guardians’ consent.

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Drinking Age for South Africa

If the new proposed drinking age for South Africa is raised to 21, there will be some serious consequences for the country.  Firstly, as mentioned above, in terms of the Children’s Act, South African are considers majors (or adults) when they are 18 years of age. So by restricting drinking for an 18-year-old, but allowing him/her to enter into contracts or to get married without parental consent seems a bit arbitrary and not well thought-out. Leon Louw, CEO of the Free Market Foundation, told City Press that:

If the government wants to take responsibility of managing our lifestyle, which is actually our own right, they should also regulate obesity, which is also a huge problem. People forget that we have had very strict alcohol regulations during apartheid, which were repealed because they were ineffective and counterproductive. So why are we trying it again?

Other problematic recommendation in the Review Policy is to prevent alcohol advertising at sports and entertainment events. This (as well as the new proposed drinking age for South Africa) is a big problem for the South African economy according to Johannes Jordaan, who is the chief economist at Economic Modelling Solutions. According Jordaan the liquor industry in SA contributes about R116 billion to the economy and creates about 90 000 jobs, according to studies conducted in 2009.

Another problematic suggestion in terms of the Review Policy is that suppliers of alcohol have the duty to cut people off who are very intoxicated and stop serving them alcohol. This means that bartenders, waiters and traders can be punished if they serve a person who is intoxicated, because the Policy provides no guidelines as to what is considered to be “very intoxicated“. This suggestion again seems extremely arbitrary and confusing, because how can suppliers of alcohol determine whether a person has had enough to drink every time as it is a subjective thing?

Also, liquor licenses will only be issued to establishments that serve or sell alcohol that are 500m away from schools, residential areas, public institutions, schools, buildings attached to petrol stations and public transport areas. This basically means that the entire 7th street in Melville might as well shut down as the bars and restaurants in the street are all within 500m of two churches as well as surrounding residential areas. The same thing applies to the “strip” in Greenside as there are flats located on top of bars as well as restaurants serving alcohol. In terms of the Review Policy, these establishments won’t be issued with liquor licenses and then would essentially have to go out of business. Establishments that have already been issued with a liquor license will have two years to comply with the suggested Policy.

Drop us a comment and let us know if you agree with the new proposed drinking age for South Africa, as well as the other suggestions in terms of the Policy.