Associations and members say enough is enough!

NTHA Quarterly Column

The peaceful march was staged in Newtown and the memorandum was handed over to the Office of the Premier

On 4 April 2019 NTHA, GLF, SALTA and Consent Tshwane marched to Newtown to hand over their memorandum to the Office of the Premier containing their grievances.

After several meetings over the past few years with the Premier's advisor, Eric Xayiya, in trying to address the matter of red tape with municipal laws and the Liquor Board and in dealing with the matter troubling Yeoville taxpayers, we are still waiting patiently for the legislature to come up with proper laws to govern shebeen licenses. These permits were given to us as small township business community members and citizens. We were told to go and prepare our business places, which we did. We separated our homes and business premises according to the 60%-40% ratio they recommended, we created smoking and non-smoking sections, built male and female toilets, purchased appropriate furniture to create safe outlets for our patrons, hired community members and family members to assist with safety and security – all this to ensure that we have clean, safe and secure business premises.

At our last meeting with Mr Xayiya, the stakeholders present were representatives from the legislature, Gauteng Liquor Board, Gauteng municipality, Tshwane municipality, Ekurhuleni municipality, West Rand municipality and the SAPS. Each stakeholder was given a task and the associations were told to wait for the report on the outcomes of these tasks, but that took a year. No report was given and that is why we, as the associations, decided to march. We met to come up with a plan that if we are going to be treated like this, we need to organise ourselves and have a peaceful march that will let our government know that we are not happy and not yet free.

Liquor traders are hardworking people who sacrifice much to improve their lives and those of their families.

Liquor traders are hardworking people who sacrifice much to improve their lives and those of their families. We make contributions to our communities, the majority being decent human beings who earn an honest living and pay our taxes from trading in a responsible manner, yet not being dependent on anyone. We are proud of doing things for ourselves instead of depending on the government for everything. We don’t need a helping hand from our government as we don’t need any hand-outs!

Our memorandum had a clear message to the government, that we call on you to urgently see to:

the removal of red tape strangling small township liquor businesses,

zoning consent use from municipalities that requires ample parking space that 99% in townships won’t have,

the introduction of a fees structure and not a 150% increase that will stop our taverns from renewing shebeen permits.

What is the point of having a business that contributes positively to the community and the country if your children are unable to inherit from it? The process of issuing permits to qualifying taverns has been delayed; this is not acceptable.

On the issue of operating 500m from churches, taxi ranks and places of training, we request the provincial government to intervene and ensure shebeen permits are not cancelled. When the provincial government talks about the township economy, it must remember that taverns and shebeens are central to the township economy. In order to realise success and growth in the second economy, both local and provincial government must get the regulatory fundamentals right. Discrimination against small township traders must be addressed. Large retailers enter into the township and are awarded blanket licenses while struggling traders are prevented from obtaining such permits or licences even after having operated for years in the same space. We need immediate action to reduce the barriers that prevent us from providing for our families and contributing to the economy as a whole, failing which nobody will be allowed to conduct liquor trade in the townships.

This sort of bureaucratic rule-making not only severely undermines the townships’ confidence in our government, but also hinders our ability to build businesses that sustain our people and families. Under the weight of these apartheid-like rules, thousands of businesses will be forced to close down. The Premier was given 14 working days to respond and arrange a meeting in order to discuss the details and a way forward. Indeed the Office of the Premier replied and asked to have a meeting with us on 30 April 2019.

Phumzile Ratladi, NTHA Secretary