South Africa: ‘Beer For Africa’ Campaign Averted

Following public condemnation of cynical exploitation of hunger to sell more beer with the now infamous “Beers for Africa” campaign, South African Breweries has given notice that it has decided to upend the campaign. With every pack sold, Rise Against Hunger Africa would have received a donation. Following a public outcry SAB decided to withdraw the campaign.

The Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance (SAAPA), along with the Public Health Association of South Africa (PHASA), Sacowach and Schools of Public Health across South Africa have voiced strong concern about South African Breweries’ (SAB) use of hunger to market their products under the guise of donating the proceeds from sales of an 8-pack beers to Rise Against Hunger Africa, formerly Stop Hunger Now Southern Africa.

SAAPA has expressed that the decision is welcome. In a Facebook statement, the civil society alliance for evidence-based alcohol policy said:

We agree that feeding hungry children and students remains an important intervention in the context of poverty experienced in South Africa. However, initiatives to raise money for this important need should not promote the sale and consumption of harmful products like alcohol.

Marketing alcohol in bigger quantities, supposedly to address hunger, will, over the long term, contribute to aggravating hunger and alcohol problems.

Bigger packages and large quantities make alcohol more accessible, which will add to the existing challenge of binge alcohol use. Students are well recognised as a risk population for binge alcohol use.”

SAAPA is a collaborative initiative between eight Southern African countries aiming to address the challenge of harmonising and accelerating alcohol policy development in the region. Two of the SAAPA board members, Mr Tungamirai Zimonte, from YADD in Zimbabwe and Mrs Mphonyane Mofokeng from ADAAL in Lesotho, are members of IOGT International.

With momentum, new calls for better alcohol prevention

After the advocacy success to avert such a cynical Corporate Social Responsibility campaign by an alcohol company that is owned by the world’s largest beer producer, civil society activists are now calling on the South African government to revisit stalled alcohol control legislation including the ban of alcohol advertising.

We call on government to adopt the proposals of the Draft National Liquor Bill, to unlock the stalled legislation on alcohol advertising and to ensure a tax on alcohol that can be ring fenced to address health and social problems, including the problem of hunger in South Africa.”

SAAPA has been pushing the Department of Trade and Industry to release the draft of the National Liquor Bill. The proposed legislation aims to raise the minimum legal age for alcohol use from 18 to 21 and would also crack down on alcohol advertising.

It is a concern that cabinet approved the Bill in 2012 for public comment and five years later we have yet to see the draft. As I said, we have written to the minister raising this concern and received an acknowledgement, but have not yet received the draft,” SAAPA spokesperson Aadielah Maker said.

Pervasive alcohol harm in South Africa

Despite the fact that less than 50% of people in South Africa drink, those who use alcohol do so at dangerous levels. South Africa has some of the highest rates of alcohol use disorders in the world:

  • In 2001, 25% of alcohol users engaged in binge alcohol intake
  • 130 people die every day from alcohol related injury or disease
  • 25% of intentional and 16% of unintentional injuries are alcohol-related
  • Amongst children under the age of 13 years, a shocking 11% report alcohol consumption in the past month.