by Kerry Cullinan
The South African Health News Service, April 3, 2018
Over the Easter weekend, South Africa became the first African country to impose an excise tax on sugary drinks, a move that has been welcomed by health experts but condemned as ‘nanny-ish’ by free marketeers. The tax on sugary drinks, which came into effect on 1 April, has been one of the most hotly debated taxes in the history of South Africa, eliciting threats and massive lobbying from beverage companies. Renamed the Health Promotion Levy by government, this is the first tax in which government has committed some of the proceeds to health. While Treasury generally refuses to ring-fence income from taxes, for the first time it has committed to giving a portion of the income to the health department to try to stop the diseases associated with high sugar diets such as diabetes, hypertension and strokes.