Alcohol industry gearing up to start trading on Tuesday – Ntimane

People queue for Covid screening before entering a bar in Melville, Johannesburg. 22 August 2020. Photo for illustration. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

The first shipment of one million doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine from India arrives on Monday, sparking speculation that President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the nation this week.

In January, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma extended the national State of Disaster until 15 February.

This was done “taking into account the need to continue augmenting the existing legislation and contingency arrangements undertaken by organs of state to address the impact of the disaster”.

The extension came after Ramaphosa’s announcement to extended level 3 lockdown until the country “passes the peak of new infections”, not specifying when the new regulations would lapse.

The number of daily Covid-19 infections has been decreasing since, with 4,525 cases reported on Sunday.

The arrival of the first consignment at OR Tambo marks the start of the vaccine rollout, which  Ramaphosa described as the largest and most complex logistical vaccine undertaking in South Africa’s history.

The first phase will prioritise around 1.2 million frontline health workers.

Ramaphosa will also virtually deliver a keynote address at the Annual NEDLAC Organised Labour School convened under the theme ‘Economic Recovery, Collective Bargaining and Labour Law Reform’ on Monday.

Now South Africans expect the president to host another family meeting this week to address among other issues, address the sale of alcohol and relaxation of lockdown level 3 regulations.

Liquor Traders Association convenor, Lucky Ntimane on Monday morning told The Citizen the industry expects to start trading on Tuesday.

“The issue of alcohol being allowed has been agreed already. There was a follow-up meeting on last week with the Natjoint. Natjoint focused on the social compact between government and the industry. Yesterday there was a meeting with the premiers, so that meeting also had a resolve on that,” he said.

The alcohol industry has been calling on government to lift the alcohol ban, arguing that the continued ban on alcohol sales continues to wreak havoc in the lives and livelihoods of liquor traders and workers.

“The decision by the President and his cabinet to institute a third ban on alcohol sales on the 28th
December 2020, further condemning the alcohol industry to 18 weeks of non-trading since
lockdown was implemented in South Africa on the 26th of March 2020 has reduced liquor traders to
being mere spectators in the economy they have contributed significantly to over so many decades,” said the industry, as it called for a meeting with Ramaphosa.

However, the meeting never happened, said Ntimane, “as he is too busy for us”.

The Citizen/Vhahangwele Nemakonde