The National Liquor Traders Council (NLTC) has called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to immediately lift the ban on alcohol sales, over fears of a collapsing tavern sector and massive job loss if there’s no return to trading soon.
NLTC convenor Lucky Ntimane said that the continued ban on alcohol sales was pushing traders closer to poverty and over 250,000 workers were at risk of losing their jobs if the ban was not lifted.
This after Ramaphosa announced an extension on the ban of alcohol sales indefinitely.
“The continued ban on alcohol sales, a decision taken without consulting anyone in the alcohol industry continues to wreak havoc in the lives and livelihoods of our liquor traders and workers,” said Ntimane.
Ntimane said that their priority was a meeting with Ramaphosa to discuss the lifting of the ban to save jobs.
“Should the ban on alcohol sales not be lifted in a matter of days, and we envisage seven days to be a break-even period, then we should be prepared to part ways with a significant number of the 250,000 jobs that are at stake this very moment,” said Ntimane.
Ntimane said that the president and Cabinet’s decision to institute a third ban on alcohol sales, on 28 December 2020, had reduced liquor traders to being mere spectators in the economy they had contributed significantly to over many decades.
“The dynamic of a tavern market is that of a sustenance type of small business, with a key characteristic being that of a hand to mouth type of an enterprise and largely run by a breadwinner who supports all the key needs of a household including education for the children.
“54% of tavern owners are women who continue to bear the brunt of the government’s uncaring attitude towards small black-owned businesses in the township space,” said Ntimane.
Ntimane also said that the situation was dire and required urgent intervention at a level of the president to resolve, the first step of which is allowing the sale of liquor restart without delay.
“The president has shown little if any interest at all on the plight of the liquor industry not least the taverners who are mostly affected by the ban and his continued claim that he is focusing on saving lives is countered by the government’s inaction and outright failure on even doing the most basic of things to saving lives which is to procure vaccines.
“Had the president bothered to consult with the industry we would have told him that it is possible to save lives and livelihoods and propose ways in which this could be achieved without condemning the industry to economic abyss.
“The president has proven over and over again that his concern is political expediency over the livelihoods of the people of this country and more especially black people who are trying to earn a living by selling a legal product – liquor.” Ntimane added.
Compiled by Reitumetse Makwea