The Vumela Liquor Traders’ Association (VULTA) has urged its rank and file members to attend a workshop on liquor and tobacco legislation taking place on Saturday at the Harare Library in Khayelitsha at 10am.The guest speaker will be Leon Louw, executive director of the Free Market Foundation (FMF), and the event is organised by Independent Entrepreneurship Group (Ineng). Louw will discuss the effects of the proposed Liquor Amendment Bill which states that “The manufacturing, distribution or retail sale of liquor in either rural or urban community is prohibited on any location that is less than five hundred (500) metres away from schools, places of worship, recreational facilities, rehabilitation or treatment centres, residential areas, public institutions and other like amenities.”Vumela Liquor Traders Association, which has been in existence for 39 years, said the proposed bill has already forced many traders to close their businesses.Keith Ntoyi, the chairman, explained that if the new regulation is passed, it will hit local businesses were it hurts most.“...Especially at a time when unemployment in the country has reached very serious levels and the economy (is)shrinking.The NLP proposal is that the national minimum legal drinking age be raised from 18 to 21 years.The proposal is totally unrealistic considering that for a very large sector of the population practising the traditional custom of initiation into manhood, the general age is around 17 and 18 years.“The age at which a person can join the army is 17 years. At 18 years of age people are allowed to get married. This is a serious step in any person’s life as it marks the beginning of a lifetime of all sorts of serious responsibilities and commitments.“VULTA is of the strong view that proposed age restriction be scrapped and that 18 years is a reasonable minimum age consumption of liquor products.Then there is also the proposal regarding the zoning requirements to be complied with. Many businesses operate from family houses.In some cases extension to the original house are used for various trading purposes and in some cases separate structures have been constructed in the yardsThis is one proposal that will put all township based liquor traders out of business.We also propose that the zoning compliance requirement proposal be totally scrapped,” Ntoyi said.