Arguing that alcohol will salvage economy is poorly thought and myopic
Share this article:
There can be no dispute that South Africa is a nation of drinkers. For some, the government’s decision to again suspend the sale of alcohol, amidst a second wave of Covid-19 infections, has translated into uncomfortable, or perhaps inconvenient adjustments.
While drinkers have had to change their drink of choice, cue alcohol-free beer, opportunistic politicians have been caucusing on how to extract the maximum political capital from the taps having gone dry.
In a press statement, the DA says it will today “unpack the devastating impact that the ongoing alcohol ban has had on the economy and jobs”.
There can be no doubt that the alcohol ban and the Covid-19 pandemic have had a devastating impact on all industries, particularly the entertainment, hospitality and leisure industries.
But before the DA complains about the suspension of the sale of alcohol, it should perhaps ask health experts what sort of impact the ban is having on hospital trauma units.
Four weeks ago, the relatively empty trauma unit at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto gave us a glimpse of what is possible. Usually, over New Year, the hospital’s trauma unit would be crowded as victims of violent crime are wheeled in.
With Covid-19 infections requiring an increased number of hospitalisations, hospitals and health-care workers have been placed under immense pressure to save lives.
Whatever can be done to mitigate the devastating effects of alcohol abuse on our communities should be undertaken. Instead, the DA, desperate for votes in the upcoming local government elections, are going against all common sense in the hopes that it will help them at the ballot box.
While the middle classes can drink in the safety and confines of their homes, those who live in overcrowded informal settlements and low-cost housing do not have this luxury. This is backed up by several scientific studies, which correlate the victims of interpersonal violence, particularly over weekends, being located at informal settlements or in low-cost housing. But don’t expect the DA to draw on these examples.
Yes, our economy cannot afford further devastation but arguing that booze will salvage our economy is either poorly thought out at best or at worst myopic.