Johannesburg Executive Mayor Cllr Mpho Parks Tau and City Manager Trevor Fowler on Wednesday June 8 signed a partnership agreement with the Vice-President of Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), Dr Scott Ratzan, at the Soweto Hotel to improve health literacy and accelerate socioeconomic transformation through enterprise development.
The partnership seeks to curb harms associated with alcohol abuse while enhancing economic participation and building Johannesburg’s new democratic economy.
AB InBev is a Belgian-based global beverage and brewing company that recently bought out SABMiller for more than $100-billion. South Africa’s Competition Tribunal is to hold hearings over the deal later this month.
“Today marks the beginning of a unique, mutually beneficial partnership with AB InBev for the people of Johannesburg. By signing this memorandum of understanding we seal our partnership on this public interest programme, which combines the commercial ability and leverage of AB InBev with the City’s logistical and ground support capabilities,” Mayor Tau said.
He said AB InBev had committed R50-million over the next five years to the partnership. This funding will be channelled into implementing an alcohol outreach and education programme that will see 6 000 frontline knowledge workers trained and dispatched to liquor outlets, taverns and nightclubs throughout Johannesburg to impart valuable information about alcohol and alcohol abuse, complete interest surveys, create awareness of consumption levels by using breathalysers and digital media presentations and link these findings to information on alternative ways to travel and get home while under the influence of alcohol.
Mayor Tau said the partnership’s goals complemented the City’s commitment to critical interventions aimed at reducing non-communicable diseases and improving mortality and morbidity rates.
“A high number of people die prematurely as a result of non-communicable diseases and, by including alcohol abuse as one of these, this partnership addresses this and health challenges in the city,” said Mayor Tau.
Dr Ratzan said by improving health literacy, residents would be in a position to make informed decisions about healthier and smarter alcohol use, thereby reduce the effects alcohol has on the population’s health and productivity.
“We’re looking at and sparking new ideas on how to address critical issues associated with alcohol abuse. Global health is too important to relegate,” said Dr Ratzan.
The second part of the partnership is to create enterprise development opportunities in socially disadvantaged areas.
“Together with AB InBev we as the City are in the process of identifying possible value-chain opportunities and how to best anchor them with other City initiatives, including but not limited to Vulindlel’ eJozi, to ultimately enhance their success,” said Mayor Tau.
He said a programme steering committee comprising both City and AB InBev officials would oversee the implementation of the partnership agreement. Added Dr Ratzan: “Good health is good business and we hope that this programme will see better decisions made by all Johannesburg residents when it comes to alcohol consumption because they’ve been given the relevant information.”
Several Members of the City's Mayoral Committee – including Councillors Christine Walters (Transport), Chris Vondo (Social Development), Nonceba Molwele (Health and Social Development), Matshidiso Mfikoe (Environment and Infrastructure Services) and Ross Greeff (Development Planning) – witnessed the signing.