Severe staff shortages result in Liquor Board compliance collapse

Severe staff shortages result in Liquor Board compliance collapse

The Eastern Cape Liquor Board (ECLB) cannot ensure compliance at liquor outlets in the province due to severe staffing shortages, with more than half of its enforcement officer posts currently vacant.

It is no wonder that the board is failing miserably to curb the escalating abuse of alcohol, especially among underage youth. Underage drinking poses significant risks such as impaired judgment, increased likelihood of accidents, and heightened vulnerability to long-term health issues like addiction and developmental disorders.

In response to parliamentary questions from the DA, Economic Development, Environmental Affairs, and Tourism MEC, Mlungisi Mvoko, revealed that the ECLB only employs 21 enforcement officers out of 60, a vacancy rate of 65%.

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It is impossible for the ECLB to fulfil its mission of mitigating the adverse effects of excessive alcohol consumption when it is so severely understaffed. For the ECLB enforcement officers to carry out their role and ensure that our communities are protected from alcohol abuse, they must be supported and their numbers boosted.

Furthermore, MEC Mvoko revealed that in the last three financial years, 869 establishments had been found to be trading without valid liquor licenses in the Eastern Cape, and those are only the establishments that the understaffed compliance officers were able to investigate.

In February of this year, I tabled a motion in the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature calling on the Provincial Government to capacitate the Eastern Cape Liquor Board to play an effective role in controlling the use and abuse of liquor and its resultant socio-economic impacts.

The motion called for mandating the Eastern Cape Liquor Board to embark on a comprehensive education drive to point out the dangers of alcohol abuse and underage drinking and that mechanisms be introduced to facilitate better consultation between the Eastern Cape Liquor Board and Local Governments so that they may play a more meaningful role in the control of such facilities and the issuing of liquor licenses within their jurisdictions.

The DA will call on the presiding officers of the EC Provincial Legislature to set a date for the motion to be debated and passed. The residents of the Eastern Cape deserve a well-capacitated Liquor Board playing its role in ensuring safer communities.