Sun. Jul 21st, 2024

Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi has come under fire for the provincial government’s collaboration with the well-known alcohol brand Heineken, sparking controversy and accusations of hypocrisy. Lesufi announced the partnership on Wednesday, 15 November, on social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter), lauding the creation of “taverns of the future.”

This move has drawn scrutiny as Lesufi, in 2019, while serving as the MEC for Education in the province, publicly criticized alcohol and advocated for an alcohol-free South Africa. Critics now accuse him of changing his stance.

Lesufi defended the partnership when confronted by X users, stating that his role in government is centered on attracting investments and creating jobs, separate from his personal views. The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in Gauteng criticized the creation of new taverns, asserting that it not only promotes alcoholism but also highlights the ruling party’s lack of direction in job creation and addressing the economic challenges faced by Gauteng residents.

Thandiswa Mazwai, an artist, joined the criticism, expressing concern about the promotion of alcohol in townships. She urged Lesufi to focus on enhancing arts and science centers for the benefit of children’s futures, emphasizing that taverns contribute to the destruction of black communities.

The sentiment was echoed on social media, with calls for the removal of taverns from residential neighborhoods and a restriction of liquor outlets and taverns to shopping centers, away from homes and schools. Concerns were raised about the impact of taverns on social decay, violence, and crime in townships.

The controversy surrounding the government’s partnership with Heineken has ignited a broader discussion about the priorities for community development and economic upliftment in Gauteng.

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