EFF, ANC demand Tshwane mayor Randall Williams withdraw statement on lifting alcohol ban
Pretoria - Tshwane Executive Mayor Randall Williams took flak from councillors, who accused him of wanting to quench his thirst by calling for the unbanning of alcohol sales in the metro amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The mayor had remarked during a virtual council sitting that the lifting of alcohol sales would benefit economic activities and prevent more unemployment.
However, his remarks elicited heated criticism from councillors from both the EFF and ANC, who demanded that he must withdraw his statement on liquor.
EFF caucus leader Moafrika Mabogwana condemned Williams' statement, saying it was reckless and irresponsible.
"He (Williams) must not be too excited and try to emulate his matric-less leader John Steenhuisen who is busy saying that alcohol must be opened up in this country. The hospitals in Tshwane, executive mayor, are extremely full," he said.
He said it was irresponsible to encourage the opening of alcohol when the front line health workers had confirmed that alcohol consumption contributed to a number of casualty cases in hospitals and added a burden towards their workload.
"The EFF wants the Executive Mayor to withdraw his remarks condoning the opening of alcohol," he said.
Regional ANC leader Dr Kgosi Maepa weighed in, saying Williams was wrong to make calls for the lifting of alcohol sales on behalf of council.
He said the council was not in opposition to the national command council, which had prohibited the alcohol sales.
"So for him (Williams) to continue to demand in public forums on behalf of this council that we want alcohol to come back and lifting the curfew is misleading. We have never agreed on such a thing," he said.
He warned against creating an enclave that suggested that Tshwane was secluded from other areas of Gauteng and the country.
"Alcohol is not allowed. It is very destructive. It is going to cause problems with the burden that we are having in the health system," Maepa said.
ANC councillor Terrence Mashigo said:"We are disappointed Executive Mayor that you are able to make such a statement in the capital city of the Republic of South Africa and we want to request you whether 'jy is dors meneer or jy is nie dors nie (you are thirsty or you are not thirsty?'"
Williams, in response, accused his critics of being selective by only latching on to alcohol from his statement.
He also refused to withdraw his statement, saying there was nothing wrong with political parties holding different opinions.
"I don't know whether they are aware that before Covid-19 started this economy was already in recession. I don't know if they are aware that in the City of Tshwane youth unemployment is more than 60%," he said.
He said closing down the economy by adopting a one-sided approach was not good for employment in the city and the country.
"What I have asked for was for an opening of sectors of the economy, sectors in manufacturing, wholesale, retail, restaurant, hospitality. All of these businesses are going bust. Who is going to provide these people with employment? SAB just withdrew a massive investment in South Africa. So what I am asking for is the opening up of economies," he said.