Premier Alan Winde under fire over support to end alcohol ban
Cape Town - Premier Alan Winde is facing a backlash following his comments made in the Western Cape Legislature in support of the alcohol ban being lifted.
Winde said: “We shouldn't have the alcohol ban or the lockdowns that last for a very long time.”
Winde said: “There is a big worry that I have, and the discussions we had with Health Minister Zweli Mkhizi, on our wine farms. It's harvest time and it doesn't help when you try and bring the new harvest in and the old harvest is still sitting in the vineyards, it has not been sold or bottled.
“First of all there are huge financial implications for those businesses. But for me a big risk is that if we keep the harvest for too long it has to be dumped and it will cause exactly the opposite effect.”
Winde was answering questions on Covid-19 in the provincial legislature on Thursday.
His comments came despite the provincial health department head Dr Keith Cloete’s assertion that hospitals experienced a significant sustained decline in alcohol related trauma at emergency centres immediately after the alcohol ban had been reinstated.
Members of the opposition lashed out at the premier for his position on the alcohol restrictions.
ANC leader in the legislature Cameron Dugmore said: “The premier is failing to listen to the advice of his department and the evidence has shown there has been a decrease in trauma-related cases. We are very disappointed and we cannot undermine the lockdown and the regulations.”
Good Party general secretary Brett Herron said: “There is a constant trend from the Western Cape government that they have challenged everything of the national government and I am starting to believe they have orchestrated the defiance of the second wave. The premier is behaving irresponsibly.”
According to Cloete, before the alcohol ban there were 1247 alcohol related trauma cases reported and after the ban 615.
“We saw a significant sustained decline in trauma presentations to emergency centres immediately after the alcohol ban was reinstated. Two weeks before the alcohol ban the average number of cases seen across five areas was 76%, two weeks after the alcohol ban that number dropped to 43%. The maximum that was recorded on Boxing Day of 157 reduced to 66 cases on New Year’s Day,” he said.
Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance in SA (SAAPA SA) director Maurice Smithers said:
“The restriction of alcohol sales contains two factors – reducing the burdens on hospitals and social gatherings.
“We are of the view the restrictions are to mitigate the risk of a more deadly second wave. The government did not make this decision lightly.”
In response to the backlash, Winde said: “I have always supported jobs and I supported the initial 14-day alcohol ban which assisted our health workers, but we have to look at the impact of this. The poor are getting poorer and women in rural areas are hit by this lockdown. I deny the accusations that I don’t care about saving lives.”
The province on Thursday announced its own plans to start acquiring vaccines, despite national government adamantly maintaining it will be the sole purchaser of the vaccine.
Winde said the province acquiring its own vaccine was about mitigating risk.
“We support a single procurement but what if that procurement messes up? We have to be able to mitigate those risks. When Mkhizi announced the vaccine plan I said thank you but If I can make some phone calls and make vaccines available I will be able to give it to the nation.
“We need to start getting our people back to work,” he said.