Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has explained her decision not to exclude certain categories of liquor, such as wine or beer, from the country’s alcohol sales ban.
Responding in court papers in a case brought by the Southern African Agri Initiative (Saai), Dlamini-Zuma said that ‘alcohol’ is defined in the Liquor Act as wine, beer and any other alcoholic product, Die Burger reports.
She added that there was no evidence that wine specifically contributes less to alcohol-related trauma cases and that the ultimate goal of the alcohol sales ban was to try and reduce the stress on the country’s hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic.
Dlamini-Zuma said that government still recognised the importance of these sectors, which is why wine producers were still allowed to produce and transport alcohol for export.
Dlamini-Zuma has also indicated that government will re-evaluate the country’s alcohol ban on a regular basis. This review would consider the hardships facing the economy and livelihoods during the Covid-19 lockdown, she said.
“It is contemplated that the suspension of the sale of liquor will be re-evaluated with regularity as government aims to also limit hardships facing the economy and individual livelihoods during this period.
“There is no desire on the part of government to leave this prohibition in place for longer that it is regarded necessary,” she said.
In a media briefing on Thursday (20 July) Tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane indicated that one of these reviews took place this week.
The issue of the alcohol ban was again considered by the cabinet and the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) as part of a range of measure to help the ailing restaurant sector.
“In our recent discussions with the restaurant sector, two issues were raised with regards to current regulations,” said Kubayi-Ngubane.
“One was the crippling effect of the nine o’clock curfew to restaurant business operations and the second was the issue of alcohol sale.”
To comply with the current curfew regulation, restaurants are unable to serve dinner to their customers which means that they are unable to operate at peak time of their business day, she said.
“In response to this challenge, Cabinet has agreed to move the curfew to start at 22h00 to allow for uninterrupted dinner service at restaurants. We believe that this change will go a long way towards increasing their revenue generation.
“The sale of alcohol remains prohibited,” she said.