Taverns seeking R20k per outlet from government and wants booze ban lifted now
They say the livelihoods of liquor traders, their families, and the 250 000 workers dependent on the tavern sector was under threat.
The body representing taverns and shebeens is calling for an urgent meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa, arguing that the current ban on alcohol sales – the third since the lockdown began in March 2020 – heralds the death knell for taverns.
In a statement Saturday, Lucky Ntimane, convener of the Liquor Trader Formations (LTF), said the organization wants the president to allow offsite sales of alcohol sales with immediate effect.
Ramaphosa announced the latest ban on liquor sales on 28 December in a bid to reduce alcohol-related trauma cases in the country’s hospitals to open up capacity to deal with admissions caused by the second wave of Covid-19 infections.
The LTF said while it supported the government’s efforts in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, it does not see how shebeens and taverns could recover from the current ban.
Support and licensing exemptions
The LTF also wants government to provide support for taverns and shebeen permit holders, to the tune of R20 000 per outlet.
In addition, shebeens and taverns want to be exempt from paying liquor licence fees for a period of not less than a year.
President Ramaphosa renewed the current ban when he addressed the nation again Monday, even as the country’s largest beer maker, SA Breweries, threatened legal action.
The shebeen and tavern sector tried to persuade the government to lift the liquor sales ban every time it was announced since the lockdown began.
Ntimane said the industry was playing its part to address societal issues that are blamed on excessive alcohol consumption, including gender-based violence (GBV), pointing to its Tavern Dialogues on GBV initiative.
“We highlight this to remedy the narrative that seeks to positions liquor traders as being irresponsible and not alive to the realities facing the country. The opposite couldn’t be truer.”
Thousands of lives under threat
Ntimane said the livelihoods of the liquor traders, their families, and the 250 000 workers dependent on the tavern sector were under threat.
“We are equally concerned that the alcohol ban is having a negative impact on the country and further dent its image as an investment destination.”
“The withdrawal of R2.5 billion worth of investment into the country by South African Breweries parent company AB InBev and the announcement by Consol that it is putting on hold R1.5 billion worth of investment has a major implication on the future growth prospects of the alcohol industry,” added Ntimane.
Ramaphosa did not expect SAB move
President Ramaphosa said he is “obviously concerned” about the SAB announcement as well as the effect the alcohol ban could have on his investment drive.
“This was least expected. What we have sought to do is to save lives in our country and also balance livelihoods and protect those livelihoods. I’m hoping that we will be able to have a discussion with South African Breweries and discuss this matter,” Ramaphosa told News24.
“South African Breweries is an important corporate in our country, has been so for more than a 100 years. And obviously we are concerned that they have taken this type of decision.”