DA pushes government to allow liquor trading
By Siviwe Feketha 5m ago
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Johannesburg – The DA has accused the national government of aiding the black market and destroying livelihoods through its continued ban on liquor sales during the pandemic.
The official opposition, which is teaming up with the Western Cape provincial government to campaign against the ban, said the prohibition was responsible for the closure of many businesses and job losses since last year.
Late last month, President Cyril Ramaphosa moved to once again impose the ban on the sale of alcohol by both retail shops and on-site consumption businesses, including pubs, restaurants and taverns, as social gatherings resulted in massive Covid-19 infections in the country.
DA spokesperson on trade and industry Dean Macpherson said the continued ban on liquor sale was both economically unsustainable and unacceptable.
“So far since March last year 165 000 people have lost jobs. That is people who don’t have money to take home to look after their families. This is a self-created crisis by the government because they failed to use the initial lockdown that they said they needed to build healthcare capacity,” Macpherson said.
He said the alcohol ban was being used as a “whipping stick” on South Africans for the government’s failures.
DA federal council chairperson Helen Zille said while there was significant social harm caused by alcohol abuse and the behaviour of people during the pandemic, alcohol had to be made freely available while people were encouraged to make responsible choices.
“We must acknowledge that we have a serious alcohol problem in SA. But we don’t believe in government prohibition because we know what happens as a result of that,” Zille said, pointing out that the ban gave rise to illegal alcohol trading.
DA federal chairperson Ivan Meyer said the alcohol ban has had a devastating economic impact on the wine farms in the Western Cape, which he said was home to 98% of SA’s wine cellars.
Meyer said he had written to Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza calling on her to ask the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) to lift the alcohol ban.
“When you stop the free market, you create the black market and that needs to stop in SA,” he said.
The push by the DA comes as the party is also dragging the national government to court over the procurement and roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines.
Zille said the DA did not trust the ANC-led government with the vaccine procurement as it presided over massive looting of Covid-19 relief funds last year.
“We are saying we want transparency…we are asking the court to give an order to make sure that President Cyril Ramaphosa answers questions that our leader John Steenhuisen has put to him and to which he has had no answers yet,” Zille said.
Steenhuisen had asked Ramaphosa to disclose where all the vaccines would be procured and the exact cost that would be incurred by the government.
DA national spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube said the party would not be able to hold the national government accountable as the official opposition if it did not have the details on the vaccine plan, as it would not “have something to hold them accountable with”.