In a bid to foster a culture of responsible drinking and adherence to covid-19 safety practices, Mzansi’s top producer and marketer of alcohol, Distell, has offered R6 million in incentives and support through its responsible trade programme.
The industry giant will partner with 24 000 outlets throughout the country including taverns, bars, and high-end restaurants with the aim of promoting safe alcohol consumption amid concerns of heightened alcohol abuse under the national lockdown.
In a recent media statement Distell CEO Richard Rushton says that alcohol forms part of a balanced lifestyle when it is consumed responsibly, but it is clear that there is a minority of consumers who have a problem with alcohol consumption.
The alcohol industry has a critical role to play in South Africa’s economic recovery, he says. This is especially true amidst a devastating 16.4% second quarter slump in the national GDP (gross domestic product) due to the global covid-19 pandemic.
In 2019, the industry accounted for R137 bn (3%) of national GDP.
“As an industry, we are united in tackling this issue and we are working towards an alcohol-safe South Africa through targeted programmes and investment.
“Distell is playing a partnership role with government, alongside key industry players, to forge an effective social compact to minimise the long-term effect of alcohol abuse on society. We believe that real partnerships, enforcement of current laws and targeted interventions are the most effective way to drive positive change,” Rushton explains.
Distributors commit to compliance
The Eastern Cape Liquor Board has given the programme an official thumbs up, says the body’s social accountability manager, Dr Mgwebi Msiya.
“The Eastern Cape Liquor Board commends Distell on its initiative of implementing the national responsible trade programme. It is our view that this initiative will go along way in promoting compliance and responsible trading, particularly in our province, and we remain committed in partnering with Distell as they roll out this auspicious initiative.”
Nokuthula Dunge, the owner of Dunge Liquor Store in Umlazi, KwaZulu-Natal, says: “We plead that all other liquor traders follow the liquor licensing rules. We also ask our customers to follow the covid-19 safety rules so that they are protected from infections. We thank Distell for bringing us this support and pledge our compliance.”
Along with the incentive programme that awards points for compliant outlets that can be converted into cash, the industry is working together to fund community policing forum members to conduct visits to outlets and patrol crime hot spots.
Distell trade representatives will supply outlets with communication material promoting the responsible drinking of alcohol. They will also support business owners to ensure they follow responsible trading principles and are audit compliant.
“For Distell to thrive, we require prosperous communities and consumers. We, therefore, aim to stimulate economic prosperity and ensure communities are better off because we are there. Sustainability is a critical enabler for our business, which is why we are playing our part with programmes such as this to discourage excessive and irresponsible consumption,” says Rushton.