Ramaphosa asks liquor board to hold off on legal challenge against alcohol ban
Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa's legal representatives have asked the Gauteng liquor board to postpone talks of legal action until Friday, April 17, as the National Command Council (NCC) is set to discuss concerns raised over the banning of alcohol sales.
The letter said Ramaphosa and the NCC would meet this week to discuss the government's economic assistance as the country entered week three of the national lockdown.
"We anticipate that the results of this discussion may well have a bearing on the issues raised by your clients. Therefore, in order to be in a position to respond to your letter fully, we ask that you afford us until the close of business on Friday, April 17, to respond to your letter," the state legal representative said in a letter addressed to Mabuza Attorneys, the legal representatives for the liquor board.
The board has written to Ramaphosa threatening legal action if he had not responded to their concerns by Tuesday, April 14. The board, which claims to represent 20 000 shebeens and taverns in Gauteng said the economic impact of the lockdown had been hard to bear for its members. It requested that Ramaposa consider the unbanning of the sale of alcohol during the now extended lockdown period, which is expected to end on April 30.
There has been an outcry from political parties particularly the EFF which has also written to Ramaphosa urging him not to adhere to the liquor board's requests. It said the unbanning of alcohol sales was not in the public interest.
“It is not fair to other small businesses to lift the ban solely for alcohol distributors. Many other small businesses are suffering due to the lockdown such as hair salons, car washes and many other sole proprietors.
“Our client is concerned that that the upliftment, removal or amendment of the regulation banning the sale of alcohol take place, a pandora’s box will be opened and all small non-essential businesses will attempt to jump on the wagon," Angelike Charalambous for the EFF said.
Ramaphosa said the NCC would consider several other concerns facing various sectors as the lockdown continues.
"The Presidency has been and remains willing to engage with concrete constructive proposals made by all sectors and society. The discussions on economic measures this week will factor in the many submissions by various sectors including the liquor industry," Ramaphosa's state legal representative said.