Liquor industry conflicted over restrictions

Lucky Ntimane

The Liquor Traders Formation has welcomed the resumption of liquor sales. However, local distributors expressed that due to long periods without sales and the growing illicit market, it may take a long time before the industry recovers.

According to Liquor Traders Formation Convener, Lucky Ntimane, the current restrictions have been welcomed for the sake of sit-down businesses such as restaurants and taverns but retailers remain disadvantaged. “Where there is discontent, is in the retail space where they are allowed to trade for only four days a week, from Monday to Thursday, as this robs them of an opportunity to trade over a weekend, which is a busy trading period.

Only wholesalers benefit somewhat with these new arrangements as they are able to sell to licenced traders over the three-day period when retailers are not allowed to operate,” he said. However, according to liquor distributor Paulo Defritas, because the bans were instated without prior warning, many business were left in the dark and unprepared for long periods of no revenue.

“We are in an industry with low margins, so after paying all expenses, many businesses fell in the red. The government should have been more forthcoming so we could prepare ourselves. Government was also unresponsive during the ban,” he said. Defritas expressed that between 30 to 40 restaurants and lodges he had distributed to have closed down.

“Currently, business is slow and manufacturers are not producing at the same level. There are people who owe us but we’ll never see their payments again because they simply can’t pay us back or they have closed down,” he added.

Nomaqhawe Mtebele