As Africa Check reports in Daily Maverick, it’s not yet clear what the effects of the proposed sugar tax in South Africa will be. But it is clear that South Africa has a serious obesity problem – and that sugar is a clear causal factor for obesity.
A Mail&Guardian journalist recently approached me for comment on this (I’ll update this post with a link to the piece when it’s published), but because the M&G article will likely only quote snippets, here’s a fuller response to a few sugar tax issues.
This is too funny to not share. Earlier today, one of our local journalists called me to ask if I could come into the studio and offer some comment on a draft policy for the allocation of fishing rights in the oyster industry, because he’d had sight of the policy (pdf), and it contained this hilarious bit in the section detailing the policy’s objectives:
(c) Co-manage oyster fishery with other spheres of government and the fishing industry in a manner that recognizes government priorities, strategic objectives of the spheres of government, the interests of fishing industry and most importantly in a manner that would please, praise and glorify that one who provided and gave man the power to rule over the fish (including oysters)
All the fish, including oysters? You mean molluscs are fish too? Those scale and fin-less ocean-dwellers that Leviticus 11:10-12 tells us are an abomination? South African molluscs will no doubt be relieved to hear that they’ve been upgraded – perhaps oysters from your part of the world will be equally blessed in the near future. And instead of managing the industry to do things like make a profit, feed people, or keep the “fish” population sustainable, it’s all about pleasuring Jesus?
There is of course a serious side to this, as I commented for the television insert (I’ll hopefully post that later) – each little bit of religious intrusion into the laws of a secular country is by itself of little consequence (usually). But taken together, they indicate a lack of commitment to keeping our laws secular. And, if nonsense like this can seem reasonable to someone drafting a policy – and if it somehow slips past the eyes of others who examine that policy – we can accidentally find ourselves in a situation in which the law stops being secular, and where we’ve got to waste much time and energy cleaning this sort of idiocy out of it.