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Before I begin, I would like to assure readers that I have nothing to do with the liquor trade. I, however, view what is happening, that is, the closing of bars, bottle stores etc, with some confusion.

I would be the first to agree that drink-driving is a scourge and should not be tolerated and that offenders should be punished. However, simply cutting supply by shutting down outlets pushes the activity underground and that is where the criminal element comes in.

The sad fact is that more often than not, taking such measures empowers this criminal element. This also turns law-abiding persons into offenders.

Simply look at what happened during the prohibition in the US or the tobacco ban imposed by South Africa recently. The other effect is the loss of revenue for government. Please law-makers, you have not stopped the use of alcohol and to compound things, the much needed revenue has disappeared.

In addition, the number of people, employed and employers, who have lost their source of income and livelyhood is extremely serious. One also hears that when the ban is lifted, a limit will be set on how much a consumer can purchase. This idea makes no sense as these consumers will simply get others to buy the alcohol for them.

What next? A ration book to buy alcohol! What I believe should be done is, outlets like bars and restaurants should get involved as is done in many countries. A customer in an establishment, who is over his limit, should be cut off, that is refused service and if he is driving, his car keys should be taken away from him. In this way, there will be more caution when supplying alcohol to unruly drunk persons.  


This will be a pragmatic way of dealing with the problem. I also believe persons drinking in public areas outside of licensed premises should be charged, especially if disturbing the peace. This is what our police service should be enforcing.
The other  long-term solution is education, just as it was done with tobacco and even certain types of food which made the public more aware of the effects these products had on health.

With smoking, due to this combination of education and laws, people are now aware that smoking is not welcome in the workplace, enclosed areas and other public places.

Please note that they are not forbidden from smoking, they must simply not inflict it on others, especially non-smokers. One other item which should be addressed at the same time is the constant use of cellphones when driving. When one drives through Manzini, at least 60 per cent of people driving are on their mobile phones.

This in turn reflects on their driving as stop streets and traffic lights are ignored with frightening regularity. When one brings this to the attention of these offenders, one is either laughed at, as if nearly causing an accident is funny.

Of course the traffic department officers are not visible as they are at roadblocks attempting to apprehend the elusive COVID-19 virus.  It would seem that this virus respects our lunch hours as these check-points cease to operate during lunch hour or if there is a drizzle. The end result is that the driving standard in Eswatini is getting worse by the day.

FJ du Preez

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