Tavern owners plead with Ramaphosa: Lift booze ban
Johannesburg - Various tavern owners and major players in the liquor industry have made renewed calls for President Cyril Ramaphosa to lift the ban on the sale of alcohol which they say will allow them to save thousands of jobs.
In their bid to persuade Ramaphosa to rule in their favour, the National Liquor Traders Council (NLTC) said due to their hardship, they were now considering raising R100million in relief to support tavern owners during the ban on alcohol sales.
The owners have also reiterated their call urging Ramaphosa to assist them with a once-off payment of R20000 for 35000 of them amounting to R690million.
NLTC spokesperson Lucky Ntimane said the ban has threatened the livelihoods of more than 34500 tavern owners, with a knock-on effect that could see more than 500000 people facing economic ruin.
Ntimane called on the president to outline when the ban on alcohol sales will be lifted and under what conditions.
“If the government acts now and lifts the ban, we can begin to recover and prevent this catastrophe.
"The unfortunate decision to suspend the sale of alcohol has shattered the entire alcohol industry and its extensive value chain."
He further said that “government continues to treat the industry with disdain and with no alternatives for support being entertained or even acknowledged”.
“This attitude is the hallmark of an uncaring government, which small business owners in townships have been subjected to for a long time.”
The SA Liquor Industry also joined the call saying that Southern African Development Community countries, such as Kenya and Nigeria, have applied some form of restrictions, but not an outright ban.
Liquor industry spokesperson Sibani Mngadi said South Africa, Sri Lanka and the kingdoms of Lesotho and eSwatini were the only four countries in the world that have banned the sale of alcohol.
Mngadi said the two landlocked neighbours (Lesotho and eSwatini) rely on South Africa for collection of excise tax on alcoholic beverages which is further distributed among these countries as part of the Southern Africa Customs Union.
He said the three countries that have barred alcohol sales were in stark contrast to South Africa in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Mngadi said, according to the World Bank, Sri Lanka has a GDP of $84billion (R1.4 trillion) Eswatini $4.4bn and Lesotho $2.4bn. “Using the World Bank data, SA’s GDP is almost four times the size of the other three countries combined at $351.4bn. Alcohol sales contribute at least 3% of its GDP at $10bn," he said, adding that South Africa has chosen not to follow global trends in responding to the epidemic, and "unfortunately this comes at a very high cost to the economy”.