Liquor ban: Govt again urged to consider balancing saving lives and livelihoods

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People working in the restaurant industry protests against the South African lockdown restrictions.
People working in the restaurant industry protests against the South African lockdown restrictions.
Nardus Engelbrecht
  • Liquor traders have called on government to strike a balance between saving lives and saving livelihoods.
  • Traders have called on government to consider their financial needs as their incomes have dried up.
  • Traders complain that President Cyril Ramaphosa didn't inform them before announcing the latest ban on the sale of alcohol.

South African liquor traders have called on government to strike a balance between saving lives and saving livelihoods.

A number of liquor traders met in Soweto on Friday where they decided that government must consider their financial needs when shutting down their businesses.

On 12 July, President Cyril Ramaphosa banned the sale of alcohol in the country with immediate effect.

Traders complained that government didn’t give them enough time to prepare for the ban as some had just taken loans to purchase new stock to kickstart their businesses after the first sales ban.

READ | Not everyone who goes to restaurants has a drink, says Dlamini-Zuma

National Liquor Council convener Lucky Ntimane said women made up the majority of liquor traders and tavern owners.

Ntimane said 54% of liquor traders nationally were women, and most often were the ones looking after their families through the sale of alcohol.


"Let us balance the need to save lives and livelihoods. Livelihoods are at stake. We know women are subjected to many things such as gender-based violence and femicide and now have to provide for their families, but they can’t because the sale of liquor is banned.

"It is a sad state, but we know women will rise up. This occasion is a testament of the strength women continue to show. We are not surprised at how this uncaring government continues to carry itself. We are not taken serious as liquor trades and small business owners in the township," Ntimane said.

READ | We will re-evaluate alcohol ban regularly, Dlamini-Zuma says

Ntimane added that government continued to treat liquor traders with disdain even though they contributed 3% to the GDP.

"You can’t sustain lives without livelihoods and we call on government to preserve lives and livelihoods,” Ntimane said.


The founder of Busy Corner sishanyama and liquor outlet, Rita Zwane, who is also the author of Conquering The Poverty Of The Mind, called on all women traders to march to the Union Building to raise their concerns to Ramaphosa.

Zwane said Ramaphosa's announcement shocked them as it came unannounced.

"One of our challenges is that we are sitting with stock that is expired and suppliers want to be paid and we can't pay them. As business people we chose the hospitality and beverages industry and have obligations to maintain.

"We are feeling the impact of Covid-19 since our businesses have been closed for five months. I get a feeling that our government knew that the lockdown was going to take a long time, not 21 days.

"They should have informed us in advance and we would have planned better.  We would have had an opportunity to plan better, arrange payments to our staff and suppliers," Zwane said.

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