Cape Town — Opponents of plans to allow Western Cape schools to sell alcohol at functions are refusing to back down.

A bill allowing the sale and consumption of alcohol at schools awaits the legislature’s approval‚ but members of the ANC and African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) attacked it on Wednesday as the Department of Education tabled its annual report.

Poorer communities were ravaged by alcoholism‚ ANC MPL Theo Olivier told the legislature’s education committee‚ saying the bill would not improve matters, and asking "Why is it necessary for the department to make these proposals‚ given the challenges we have?"

ACDP MPL Ferlon Christians said one needed only to go to a police station of a Friday to see the role alcohol played in domestic abuse. "Our children are suffering because of parents ... I am talking about poor communities that can’t even put food on the table."

Olivier said it did not make sense to allow alcohol into schools at the same time as other legislation aimed to ban shebeens and taverns from operating near schools.

In July‚ when the provincial cabinet gave the nod to the Western Cape Provincial School Education Amendment Bill‚ MEC Debbie Schäfer said the intention was to allow the sale of alcohol during functions under certain conditions‚ as some schools were renting out their halls to raise money.

Head of department Brian Schreuder would be responsible for granting permission to schools that applied for it. Schreuder told the committee on Wednesday that alcohol would not be "freely allowed at schools"‚ and that the proposed change would enhance the Western Cape government’s alcohol harms reductions strategy "by managing [use] as opposed to free‚ inappropriate use".

But Christians said the provincial campaign to reduce the harm caused by drinking was failing‚ and poor communities were hardest hit by the problem, and that parents at school functions would end up fighting‚ as happened at braais where alcohol was consumed.

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