- Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma says that the state doesn't want the alcohol ban to linger longer than necessary
- The COGTA minister explained to the court that the government had reimplemented the ban in a bid to limit the spread of Covid-19
- This comes as the nation's wine farmers challenge the prohibition in an attempt to overturn the ban, which has greatly impacted the sector
Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has promised that the government will re-evaluate the alcohol ban on a regular basis. The Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister says that the state wants to limit the impact on the economy and jobs during the Covid-19 lockdown.
The minister filed the government's reasons for the return of the ban in response to legal action taken by wine farmers. News24 reports that Dlamini-Zuma had denied any intention of prolonging the ban in court papers:
"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 told the court.
120 wine farmers represented by the Southern African Agri Initiative have challenged the ban in the High Court, dubbing it 'irrational, arbitrary and unreasonable'.
The minister has defended the decision to return the prohibition, adamant that it is a temporary solution:
"The prohibition on the sale of liquor was taken as a temporary measure until the rate of infection slows down or drops. It is one of a number of measures imposed to slow down or drop the rate of infection, together with other measures imposed, such as the curfew and social distancing in public places."
The industry itself has lamented the financial impact of the ban on the local producers in its application:
"The commercial impact of Covid-19 is far less on the liquor industry than on local wine, of which the financial [success] depends on South Africa sales. The wine farm industry cannot survive the devastating impact of a total ban on local wine sales for four to six months."
Earlier, Briefly.co.za reported that Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize had approached the National Coronavirus Command Council seeking to have the booze ban returned. The minister had noted the increased pressure on hospitals to handle the spike in trauma patients that followed the relaxation of the ban.
This, at a time when hospitals were baulking under the pressure of the pandemic, had been justification enough to reimpose the prohibition, in Mkhize's opinion.
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