The South African Liquor Brand Owners Association (SALBA) has appointed a new chairperson. Pamela Nkuna has worked in the alcohol industry for over a decade and is a woman with extraordinary talents in the corporate world.
Nkuna has a wealth of experience in regulatory matters, stakeholder engagement and communications, both in government and in the private sector. Throughout her career, as board member of Aware.org, among others, she has been focused on reducing harmful consumption of alcohol, binge drinking, underage drinking and drinking and driving, as well as on promoting an overall culture of responsible alcohol usage in Mzansi.
According to SALBA chief executive Kurt Moore, Nkuna’s appointment comes at a crucial point for the industry as the country starts to rebuild the economy and focus on the future of a post-pandemic world.
“Her experience in regulatory matters and her work on harm reduction will be critical in steering the industry during this next season, as we advance our commitment to focus on upscaling existing harm reduction programmes and finding new, innovative measures – including supporting legislative and enforcement measures to deal with our key areas of concern.”
Zolani Sinxo: There has been a lot going on in the alcohol industry. What will be your focus in the next five years?
The industry has faced many challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. What else has challenged the industry?
The existing rampant illicit market has been compounded by stringent regulations on the legal sale of alcohol: multiple alcohol bans being imposed, alcohol excise taxes that are almost double what they were across all categories in 2012, a weakening macro-economic environment where real disposable income contracted by 4.5% in 2020, and unemployment increasing. [These factors] have fuelled the market for cheap, illicit products.
The alcohol industry can and does play an important role as an engine of economic growth and job creation across the value chain. We can do this by operating within a well-regulated space. We do not support outright bans on alcohol sales, which have tragic and disastrous consequences while alternative, effective and targeted interventions are available.
Your thoughts on underage drinking and alcohol abuse: how do you think we can address it?
The alcohol industry has partnered with law enforcement and we have had positive engagements with the leadership of the South African Police Service on possible areas of collaboration on enforcement of trading rules.
Any action plans to address the harmful use of alcohol?
Our proposal involves a minimum R150 million investment in addressing at least three focus areas: heavy episodic drinking (or binge drinking), drinking and driving, and underage drinking.
We believe that to address the harmful use of alcohol in the medium to long term, we must get national consensus and multi-sectoral collaboration. By joining with all stakeholders from government, consumers, business and civil society, including our critics, we are presented with a unique situation that – with enough endeavour – can find a common goal to bring about a national change in how society views alcohol and its use.
Illicit alcohol is also a major issue in the country. How will you be dealing with this?
The alcohol sector has continually sought ways of collaborating with government to re-examine alternatives to prohibition and find viable and better alternatives that address alcohol misuse. [This,] while maintaining the livelihoods of a significant number of people whose jobs and access to income are dependent on the industry.
The alcohol industry recommends stricter enforcement of the current liquor legislation on the transgressors, the introduction of incentives to encourage compliance amongst retailers, and the fostering of partnerships with retailers and taverners’ associations to raise awareness on the responsible trading programmes.
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