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  • Writer's pictureThe Forever Africa Team

South Africa’s Liquor ban wreaks havoc in the local industry

The implementation of multiple alcohol bans in South Africa wreaked havoc through the local alcohol industry.

It decimated small breweries, distilleries, and our beautiful wine farms. The industry has suffered & some establishments have closed their doors for good. On Monday, the 17th of August 2020, the ban was lifted, and our rights have been semi-restored… for now. 

The first ban on alcohol was put in place on the 27th March 2020, with another imposed on the 12th of July, after a brief lifting of the alcohol ban on the 1st of July. The South African government claimed the need for the ban was to ensure that the hospitals remained available for COVID-19 cases.

A statement from President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa:

It is vital that we do not burden our clinics and hospitals with alcohol-related injuries that could have been avoided. We have therefore decided that in order to conserve hospital capacity, the sale, dispensing and distribution of alcohol will be suspended with immediate effect.”  

The reinstatement of the ban was claimed to be more alcohol-related causalities; however, the overall effect has been brought into dispute. The total amount lost to the ban, in terms of money and jobs equates to as high as R18 billion, according to The Drinks Business and lost the SA government around R7 billion in tax and 18 000 jobs.  

Amoung the hardest hit are the small guys, speaking to Mountain Brewing Company at the beginning of lockdown led to the head brewer stating:  

“Not being able to know when we can do business again is the real problem. 15 families rely on an income from MBco and we are a small family-run brewery. There are no shareholders with deep pockets to depend on. Once the ban is lifted, our craft beer would have matured beautifully at MBco, and will be ready to be delivered fresh to your door.”

Then the ban was lifted and reinstated as a horrible tease to the industry and her consumers.

Thankfully, MBco uses a flash-pasteuriser to allow for a longer storage life on their craft beer. Others do not, and with the increase in the length of the ban led to a vast majority of craft beer being wasted. Not to mention when the ban was lifted, brewing commenced at a great cost to the brewery, then forced to halt as the ban was reinstated. MBco has managed to keep all their employees and their doors open, but many craft breweries have had to close their doors, cut staff, or sell out.  

South Africa is one of the largest exporters of wine, with the ban extending to include the exporting of alcohol, which led to a complete shutdown of the wine industry in South Africa. According to Money Web estimates that a combination of 430 grape producers and wineries will shut their doors, potentially costing the SA job market 21 000 jobs. The wine industry has lost about R7 billion alone since the restriction on alcohol dating back to March, making up just less than half of the overall estimated R18 billion lost.  

The ban on alcohol has now been lifted, but the fear of another still looms. Just last week, there was a fake news announcement about the ban of liquor being reinstated. This had the people of South Africa surging to the nearest bottle store in an attempt to not be caught off guard like the last time. Now, the trading of liquor has recommenced the need to support local breweries, distilleries, and wineries in this difficult patch is crucial. This loss in the industry affects more than just the owner of the facility, but the distribution networks and the restaurant industry.

South Africa, now more than ever, needs you to support local and help those who are still employed, keep their jobs.  

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