The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has taken issue with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of lifting the alcohol ban, implying that he is merely bowing to pressure from the sector.
“The reopening of alcohol distribution and sale is reckless and Ramaphosa is doing so to please the alcohol manufacturing capitalist establishment, which has been threatening our country with disinvestment due to the correct decision to curtail the free flow of alcohol,” the EFF said.
South African Breweries (SAB) had announced earlier in January 2021, in light of the alcohol ban, that it was pulling investments worth R2.5 billion in the country.
As of Tuesday, February 2, 2021, the sale of alcohol for off-site consumption will be permitted from Mondays to Thursdays, from 10:00 to 18:00.
“Duty-free shops, registered wineries, wine farms, micro-breweries and micro-distilleries will be able to sell alcohol for off-site consumption during their normal licensed operating hours. The sale of alcohol by licensed premises for on-site consumption – such as restaurants and taverns – will be permitted throughout the week from 10 am to 10 pm,” Ramaphosa had announced.
The decision to remove the alcohol ban is undoubtedly a welcome relief for the sector, which had long called on government to allow the sale of booze, as the economic impact had led to the loss of 165 000 jobs.
The EFF is also unimpressed with the fact that the first batch of one million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine landed in the country, something which government has described as an achievement.
“Ramaphosa opens the sale of alcohol on the day a meagre 1 million doses of vaccine arrive in South Africa as if that is enough to insulate more than 58 million people living in South Africa. 1 million doses are not even a drop in an ocean of 58 million people, particularly with the unreliability and undependability of Ramaphosa’s administration to fulfil its commitments,” the EFF further said.
The party has also expressed some scepticism and concern surrounding the COVID-19 vaccination plans, particularly as they pertain to other provinces.
“Gauging by how provincial governments misappropriated funds meant for PPEs and the expansion of the healthcare system, it is a foregone conclusion that vaccines under the control of provincial governments, will not serve the intended purpose”