South Africa: Lockdown - Liquor Forum 'Driven By Profit' in Bid to Suspend Alcohol Ban - ANCWL

South Africa phasing in some amendments to lockdown, while keeping others in place

The ANC Women's League (ANCWL) has joined calls for President Cyril Ramaphosa not to bend to demands from the Gauteng Liquor Forum to lift the ban on alcohol.

The forum had initially given the government a Tuesday deadline to respond to its demand for the ban on liquor to be lifted or at least amended to allow for the sale of alcohol within certain hours, and has threatened to turn to the Constitutional Court if they get no joy from government.

The president, in turn, asked for the forum to hold off on its threat to approach the Constitutional Court on the matter until Friday.

ANCWL secretary-general Meokgo Matuba in a statement: "They (the forum) seem not to grapple the seriousness of the virus and the importance of preventing further spread among the people, specifically the poor."

Matuba said the league was "perturbed" by the liquor forum's push to amend regulations pertaining to alcohol sales.

The forum claims it represents 20 000 businesses.

Lockdown

South Africa has a lockdown in place in a bid to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. It is set to be lifted at the end of April.

Matuba, citing a 2019 World Health Organisation report, said alcohol abuse was the cause of many social and health challenges across the globe, including increased fatalities on South African roads.

The report placed the country in sixth place on a list for global alcohol consumption.

Panic and dismay

"A moment as this, where the entire country is in panic and in dismay over Covid-19, with its successive threats to health and lives, we cannot allow our people to carry alcohol-related challenges on their shoulders," said Matuba.

The ANCWL, making a similar argument raised by the EFF, raised concerns over the effects of liquor consumption, saying it impaired reasoning capacity and would ultimately compromise the idea of physical distancing.

"Alcohol will also render communities ungovernable as people will refuse to comply to lockdown regulations - which would cause unnecessary unrest," said the ANCWL secretary-general.

The league further asked the forum to respect the lives of South Africans and not to be driven by profits.

"They will never be able to control consumption rates and the successive behaviour from violence to crime. If they want to sell alcohol, maybe they should provide us with evidence on how alcohol will assist curbing the effects of Covid-19 in our country, and show us a community that has thrived through alcohol consumption," she concluded.

Earlier this week, the EFF sent a legal letter to the president, asking to make representations against the request to lift the ban.

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