The world is changing fast and to keep up you need local knowledge with global context.
On 12 July, President Cyril Ramaphosa introduced an alcohol ban (for the second time) with immediate effect. The announcement was met with understanding by some, and disbelief by others. Whichever side of the fence you are sitting on, the alcohol ban is undoubtedly a double-edged sword.
Hospitals are overrun
We understand that excessive alcohol consumption is resulting in trauma and that affects our hospitals. Staff are exhausted, mentally and physically, and they are trying to ensure that there are beds for Covid-19 patients.
After the previous ban was lifted, Dr Savannah Smith, who works in a Cape Town trauma unit posted the following words on social media:
“I’ve fought with multiple intoxicated people tonight so that they could get adequate care. I’ve consoled women whose partners have inflicted violence on them. People have stabbed each other, shot at each other and beaten each other to a pulp. The negative effects of alcohol on society and the healthcare system has always been around. It’s just harder to manage and cope with it when we’re going through a pandemic as well.”
…but the alcohol ban leads to job losses
On the other hand, the alcohol ban is having a devastating effect on the South African economy.
According to BusinessTech, approximately 117,000 jobs were lost in the industry during the first ban on alcohol sales. Since then, several groups including the South African Liquor Brandowners’ Association (SALBA), the Beer Association of South Africa (BASA), VinPro, Liquor Traders Association of South Africa (LTASA) and the Liquor Traders Council of South Africa (LTCSA) said the second ban would affect up to one million people working in the liquor industry value chain.
Commenting on a BizNews article, Ban alcohol resulting in losing $10bn in revenue, then borrow money from IMF to bail out SAA for the same amount. Does not make any sense, does it? Am Just Saying!”
If the ban on alcohol had not been imposed in the first place we would not be having all this trouble now. Take away the sweets from a child and see what happens when you lay it on again.”
We at the point where the government needs to open everything and people must learn to take care of themselves. All the information about covid is provided. Our economy won't survive this lockdown. More people will suffer. Open all industries
— MUSAWENKOSI NKABINDE (@Musawen51414343) August 2, 2020
What else has to happen for government to #LiftTheBanSA 😔😔 @distellgroup I'm so glad no one was hurt but I'm sure same staff will need therapy after all this for the trauma. #DistellCares #alcoholban pic.twitter.com/tUxziJXels
— PULENG KHUMALO (@PulengKhumalo) August 4, 2020
— Ta (@IamTa_O) August 3, 2020
Our country cannot even dream of an NHI if we are going to have the levels of alcohol induced trauma and ill disciplined drivers. That means we will all pay for the sub 70 IQ neanderthal who drinks his wages, beats his wife, stabs his mates and causes death and destruction on the road. You cannot provide NHI unless you address law and order. You cannot address law and order if you have corruption and leadership does not lead by example. Different rules for different people. This is why I’m out!”
Use sin tax to pay for healthcare
Maybe we should be listening to ideas like that of Rob Opie, a brand strategist and coach who suggested a rather compelling solution to the problem. Let’s remove the prohibitions on alcohol and tobacco sales, but increase tax on these ‘sin’ purchases to help pay for healthcare.
I have a happy puff and I sip wine. Enough of the sin bashing and the idea that I must be taxed more. Collect from the thieves and incompetent governance that stole from our taxes for all the good stuff meant for South Africans. That would be a huge win and show some ethics and responsibility by the awful state of governance that idiots have voted for.”
Yes, South Africans drink a lot. But is it fair to punish the responsible, tax-paying citizens for the transgressions of others?
It’s safe to say that President Ramaphosa will never please everyone when it comes to a contentious topic like alcohol. In the meantime, we hope a safe and sensible solution is found soon, and one that benefits the majority.
Cyril Ramaphosa: The Audio Biography
Listen to the story of Cyril Ramaphosa's rise to presidential power, narrated by our very own Alec Hogg.