GIVEN the high level of liquor consumption in the Eastern Cape and the ensuing effects thereof, the Eastern Cape Liquor Act is in drastic need of reform.
This piece of legislation should be an indictment on our lawmakers and is a clear example of how “bad legislation” can have a detrimental effect on the lives of innocent individuals.
It is unfortunate that the Eastern Cape Liquor Board (ECLB) has of late been reduced to a bureaucratic institution that pays lip service to public participation whilst dishing out liquor licences as if they were sweets. While I am in no way suggesting that we curb entrepreneurial creativity when it comes to newly-established liquor outlets, we simply cannot condone the granting of countless liquor licences especially where communities are opposed to the granting of such licences.
In the normal course of events a liquor licence applicant shall forward his application to the relevant ward councillor.The ward councillor or ward committee chairperson will have 30 days in which to facilitate the public participation process. Should the municipality have no ward committees in place, the matter becomes rather complicated as ward councillors are then expected to facilitate the public participation process of their own accord.
Quite disturbing is the fact that in terms of the act, the Liquor Board is not obliged to take part in these public participation processes.
The ECLB definitely has its shortcomings and one could only hope that in the not too distant future we shall see substantial changes to the legislation. Because the liquor board has a duty to issue licences in a responsible manner it needs substantially more powers delegated to it in terms of the Act to fulfil this very important mandate.