‘We are trying to enforce regulations, not endorsing the alcohol industry’
MEC Motara defends government’s partnership with Dutch beer-maker
Gauteng MEC for economic development Tasneem Motara says the government’s endorsement of taverns of the future, which is spearheaded by Dutch beer-maker, Heineken, is about supporting a programme that shifts the mindset and realities of taverns in townships.
Motara and Heineken visited Siga Culinary restaurant in Alexandra township, Johannesburg, on Monday, which is one of the first facilities to get a facelift in August 2021.
Heineken assisted with building toilets, installing CCTV cameras, lighting, painting and providing additional fridges among other things.
Motara’s visit comes after premier Panyaza Lesufi received backlash on social media following the post of a picture of himself and the brewer’s representative on X (formerly Twitter) with the caption: “Today, we received a full briefing to launch taverns of the future in our communities. The tavern of the future will blow your mind. Thanks to the new Heineken Vision. Exciting times indeed.”
Social users were critical of him for promoting alcohol usage in township while others reminded him of his previous post where he said he wanted an alcohol-free SA.
But Lesufi responded by saying: “Investment is above our individual preferences. We must bring investments in our province to create jobs and opportunities for all.”
On Monday, Motara told Sowetan: “It was communicated badly to say that we are looking at taverns of the future. Yes, Heineken dubs it taverns of the future but there is no additional taverns that we are opening.
“It is facelifting the current establishment that complies [with regulations]. We are not endorsing the alcohol industry. We are endorsing initiatives spearheaded by the alcohol industry to introduce, support and change behavioural change [and] to support positive consumption and to support realities of what would have been negative but they have found ways of making it positive. We would support it from any industry.”
According to Heineken, their aim is to transform existing licensed taverns into sustainable, responsible and sociable enterprises by upgrading the tavern infrastructure for an improved consumer experience, installing security and enabling facilities for the serving of food.
Motara said the alcohol industry contributed “immensely to the economy of the country and I think that we can't downplay what we are trying to do”.
“As the department of economic development, we are responsible for the liquor board which regulates the liquor industry and issues licences for liquor trade [and] part of our responsibility is how we enforce regulations. We’ve made a call to the industry as a whole that they must come on board with initiatives that would help enforcement. They [Heineken] are developing these establishing to sell more than just alcohol. They are helping us to enforce regulations.
“This programme is not about endorsing alcohol as a brand; it is not even about endorsing having a tavern. It is about endorsing a programme that wants to shift perception, mindset and realities of what taverns are and what taverns have done negatively in townships.”
Heineken’s Dennis Mantsane said their pilot programme had built in excess of 100 viable taverns of the future, which would be scaled over time.
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