ANC must walk the talk on alcohol abuse

YOU might recall that just two years ago, the ANC Youth League started a campaign to stop alcohol being traded on Sundays.

YOU might recall that just two years ago, the ANC Youth League started a campaign to stop alcohol being traded on Sundays.

The league argued then that alcohol abuse had started to have a detrimental effect on the lives of young people. The league even wantedalcohol adverts banned.

President Jacob Zuma supported them. In his address at the league's 23rd conference he said: "Figures from the country's Central Drug Authority indicate that 37percent of our population engages in binge-drinking and drug-taking over weekends.

"It is also estimated that alcohol abuse is a factor in nearly half of collisions and crashes on our roads. Add to this the fact that the age of first experimentation with drugs has dropped to children who are 10 years old.

"A lot of work needs to be done to ensure that we reverse the trends and eliminate alcohol and drug abuse among our people, especially children and the youth."

After his election, ANCYL leader Julius Malema showed he had taken the baton from his leaders.

"Alcohol abuse among our youth has reached alarming proportions. People who drink are engaged in violence and sexual abuse ... We will continue to campaign to deliver a better life to our youth and educate them on the ills of alcohol abuse," Malema said.

One has to ask oneself what has changed.

Why is it that Zizi Kodwa, who just two years ago created the impression that he was worried about the effects of alcohol and drugs on young people, hosts binges where the same evils he identified in 2008 flowed easily.

If nothing shows how our leaders have been swallowed up by the growing culture of living the high life, it would be Kodwa's party.

Members of the party that, in order to show that it was still a grass roots party, chose to hold their rally at Jabulani Amphitheatre in Soweto, the very day after the Convention (that would become Cope) held its gig at the larney Sandton Convention Centre, have lost their moral compass.

Hyping a life of caviar, champagne and cigars in a country with the biggest divide between the rich and the poor is unbecoming of a movement that alleges to be pro-poor and working class.

Along with Deputy Police Minister Fikile Mbalula, Kodwa championed the course against alcohol abuse and took a lot of criticism from those who believed that they were fuddy-duddies opposed to people having fun.

Today the two are champions of the excesses they spoke against.

Flanked by celebrities and the bling crowd, they are selling a new meaning of worth to the youngsters, who a couple of years ago they claimed to want to liberate from the false gods of glamour and drink.

As Kodwa told the Mail & Guardian in 2008: "We believe advertising and marketing play a major role in behavioural change."

One wonders what behavioural change he thinks he marketed at Taboo.

There will be those who will mount the disingenuous argument that I am saying people should not have fun or celebrate their birthdays. Some might even say I am jealous because I was not invited.

The first argument is relied on by those who pretend that objecting to cabinet ministers driving R1million cars means they should get into Tata Indicas. Whether I was invited or not is irrelevant.

It is an argument that pretends that people's options are reduced to either opulence or abject poverty.

ANC leaders cannot routinely live the high life and expect that the masses will not think that the passport to pleasure comes with assuming a leadership position.

Kodwa does not have to take my self-righteous rant. He needs only to revisit his and his comrades' words to see how he has diverted from the path he himself charted and for which he was willing to be ridiculed and taunted as a party pooper.