MY TOWNSHIP. MY BUSINESS. MY ECONOMY

QONDISA ISHISHINI LAKHO. WILL IT EVER WORK FOR LIQUOR TRADERS?

What is going to happen come 31 October?

For the past two years we have known the judgement of Judge J Matojane on 1 November 2017 relating to the application brought by the Yeoville Tax Payers' applications challenging the MEC’s decision to issue the 2013 Gauteng liquor and shebeen licence’s regulation. The court made the following key findings: there is no dispute regarding the proliferation of shebeens due to the discriminatory liquor laws under apartheid.

The Gauteng Liquor Act dispute defining a shebeen as “any unlicensed operation whose primary business is liquor and selling less than ten cases of 12x750ml bottled beer” does not include shebeens in the kind of licenses contemplated by section 28 of the Liquor Act. The Act in section 14 allows for a phased-in approach in the transformation of shebeens into compliant liquor retailers.

The Act in section 14 allows for a phased-in approach in the transformation of shebeens into compliant liquor retailers.

Furthermore, the court was also of the view that because it found the regulation invalid, the legal implications of this finding would be that shebeen owners could face prosecution. Thus, the court suspended the order of invalidity allowing for the regulations to continue for two years to allow the department to remedy and give direction as to what was to be fixed or remedy two things - public participation and advising - which was the complaint from the application of Yeoville Tax Payers.

The people were not wrong to complain, they were sick and tired of what was happening in Yeoville with irresponsible trading by people who did not care about their community but just to make money. They knew that if there were two things missing in that 2013 Bill, which was public participation and advising irresponsible traders they were not going to get licences.

The Gauteng Liquor Board does not have the best interest of traders and communities at heart. Because of the actions of four people the whole of Gauteng is put on hold. Meanwhile, they are busy escalating the number of traders by giving out fraudulent permits to people who don’t attend the workshops about responsible trading. Those people don’t even belong to an association because they know that an association needs a copy of their ID and license and proof of residence.

Meanwhile, Gauteng Liquor Forum and various associations have had more than five meetings wanting to know how far they have come in remedying the situation. We’ve been told by the chief director, Raymond Martin, that a lot has been done but he could not comment on what has been done. It is clear that the department is not on our side.

"My Township/My Business/My Economy, Qondisa ishishini lakho" is not going to happen for liquor traders, so how do you register an unlicensed business?

The fact of the matter is we know that when MEC Kholisile Nkosiphendule took a decision on converting the permits to shebeen licenses that are on hold now, he said permits will remain valid till the process of licensing is done. So, by law, shebeen permits holders will trade until the process is done. When that will be we don’t know but all we know is that those permits were given to more than 15 000 traders and by now some of the businesses have grown to a point where owners have employed more than three workers, which means more than 45 000 people who are feeding more than 180 00 mouths will go hungry if the government does not do what they are asked to do.

That is not what township economy revitalisation (TER) means. In a meeting at Umnotho in Eloff Street, the MEC mentioned that there is a township economy revitalisation act that has just been developed. We are looking forward to seeing it because we think it is going to help in taking care of the township economy. With all of this happening in the industry and the department, where do traders who do not belong to any registered association stand?

This is not a matter that can be won by an individual. What is it that one can do when you are told that your permit is not on the system or your permit is a twin operating somewhere? When the department says they don’t have 2006 permits on the system, they only look at the date and signature. When greedy people can forge signatures, the fear is that too many innocent and hardworking people are going to be out of business and too many people are going to be out of their jobs. The truth shall be told.

Phumzile Ratladi, NTHA Secretary