The Star (Nairobi)

3 January 2013

Kenya: Pre-Poll Alcohol Ban Bill Sails Through House

Photo: John Fraser/IPS
Parliament has approved the pre-poll alcohol Bill.

Parliament yesterday debated a Bill that will outlaw the sale and consumption of liquor two days before the March 4 election date.

They concluded concluded debate on the Alcoholic Drinks (amendment) Bill, 2012 which means it has sailed through the second stage in the House. The bill is now expected to proceed to the third and final stage-- committee-- where further amendments can be introduced.

Once it passes the committee stage and if it has no amendments, it will head straight to the President for assent.

Unless it is amended at the committee stage, it will be illegal for any establishment or outlet to sell any alcoholic drink two days before the general election. The law will also apply in any area where a by-election is being held.

This means that no bar will be opened from March 2, 2013. Bar owners will only resume their business after Kenyans cast their votes on March 4.

"Unless if the license issued under this Act permits, no person shall sell an alcoholic drink during the period two days prior to the date of any general election or in areas subject to a by-election as provided for under the Constitution," reads section 32 (2) of the Bill. The Bill seeks to amend the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act, 2010 popularly referred to as the Mututho Law.

Anyone who will violate the provisions for a first offence will face a fine not exceeding Sh50,000 or a nine-month stint in prison or both. For a second or subsequent offence, the person will be fined an amount not exceeding Sh100,000 or a one year jail term or both.

However during the debate yesterday, MPs complained about that they said was 'selective enforcement' of the Mututho laws and wanted advertisement of alcoholic drinks be placed under the same regulations.

They claimed that some beer manufacturers, whom they did not identify, were flouting the regulations for alcohol advertisement. They also accused the police of double standards especially when it came to enforcing the hours when consumption of alcohol is allowed.

"We have noticed that the police are selective in implementing this law. This House passes the required law but the police are either slow or selective in their implementation," said Mwingi South MP David Musila.

Naivasha MP John Mututho who moved the motion said the amendments are meant to tighten the loopholes that have seen the public flout the Alcohol Drinks Control Act indiscriminately and seek stiffer penalties for those who violate the law.

However, the amendment relaxes the provision in the current law that bars sale of alcohol at least 300 metres from schools.

The MPs argued that this requirement had led to the closure of many bar businesses which were situated near schools.

Other proposals include compelling alcohol manufactures to display on every package containing an alcoholic drink a warning that excessive drinking can cause liver cirrhosis; impairs judgment and one should not drive or operate machinery while drunk.

It will also bar manufacturers from having alcohol advertisements on TV and radio stations between 6 am and 10 pm. The use of sports or entertainment personalities to advertise alcoholic drinks will also be prohibited.

Also to be outlawed is painting or decorating a residential building with the name of the alcoholic drink or manufacturers' colours, images or logo. The Bill also has proposed that all alcoholic beverages are registered with the National Campaign Against Drug Abuse.

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InFocus

Kenya Debates Pre-Poll Alcohol Ban

Parliament has approved the pre-poll alcohol Bill.

A bill that seeks to ban the consumption and sale of alcohol two days before the country's general elections is now being discussed in committee by Parliament. Read more »