News | Opinion
While no one will dispute the effect the banning of booze has had on freeing up hospital beds in trauma units since late last year, we need to be brutally honest and accept it is also having an adverse effect on people’s livelihoods.
The alcohol industry, restaurants, bars and local brewers have all felt the knock since President Cyril
Ramaphosa announced the prohibition on alcohol at the end of last year. Many businesses are on the verge of folding, or have already closed their doors as a direct result of the decision.
Big corporates have taken tough decisions to counter the setbacks. Consol glass is believed to be losing R8 million a day to keep their furnaces burning, with Consol Glass chief executive officer (CEO) Mike Arnold revealing that 85% of their business was in the alcohol industry.
South African Breweries (SAB) cancelled a further R2.5 billion of investment earmarked for 2021 following a third local ban on alcohol sales in the country.
In August, the maker of Carling Black Label and Castle Lager beer cancelled R2.5 billion of planned expenditure. Heineken will cut 7% of their staff due to the ban, while it’s believed that about 30% of local breweries have been forced to shut their doors permanently.
Heineken have also abandoned planned investments. It’s easy for Economic Freedom Fighters’ deputy president Floyd Shivambu to have a go at SAB for cancelling their investments, saying “what’s the story of these rapacious and greedy tax base eroders? They can go to hell and must stop threatening SA because they want to impose alcohol on us”.
It’s not as simple as that. Yes, South Africa has a drinking problem. We need to put systems in place to deal with this. A booze ban will not solve it.
People who want to get alcohol will still get their fix regardless of a prohibition. We’ve seen this with the first two booze bans and ban on tobacco products.
It’s time we put our heads together to come up with a solution to keep the economy going, make sure our trauma units are not stretched and that binge drinking is curtailed.
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