Children are exposed to alcohol around them through taverns and advertising from an early age. The tragedy of the Enyobeni Tavern in the Eastern Cape reminds us that we need stricter rules and enforcement. Schools are the last place learners should be exposed to alcohol, but Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga may allow alcohol in schools if the current Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill is not changed.
We can’t let this happen and we must stop Parliament and Minister Motshekga from passing this Bill. Add your name to the campaign here.
In 2015, the first draft of the BELA Bill proposed that alcohol be banned from school premises. Now the new version says schools can have alcohol on school premises and at school activities off school premises. Our actions will make or break this Bill, but we must act quickly. We must put pressure on Parliament to keep section 8(1)(b) in the BELA Bill, which bans alcohol on school premises and at school functions, in the same way that illegal drugs and dangerous weapons are banned – and scrap section 8(1)(c) except for the part allowing staff who live on school premises to have liquor for their personal use in their homes, under strict conditions.
Already alcohol consumption is ‘normalised’ in the eyes of learners, which is why many fall into the trap of underage drinking. Research suggests that over 50% of teenagers in Mzansi drink alcohol . The South African Alcohol Policy Alliance (SAAPA) have launched a petition we are in support of on www.awethu.mobi to stop this Bill from making children even more vulnerable to alcohol consumption. By supporting this campaign and signing the petition, you will be helping create a Mzansi that is safer for children so that we can focus on issues of malnutrition and gender-based violence. You can add your name to the campaign here.
The alcohol industry is powerful. In 2019, I launched a petition calling on the SABC to stop their alcohol adverts because they associated drinking with success. The SABC did not agree with the demands, which shows how the industry has infiltrated our society. But, just like we did with cigarette companies, when we come together in numbers, we can start to fight back against corporate power and create a Mzansi that puts people before profit.
Together for justice,
Tlou for the amandla. mobi team.