Why reintroducing alcohol ban is likely to undermine respect for the law in Mzansi

A government's actions must
be seen to be reasonable and
fair from the point of view of
any law-abiding citizen.
Any responsible
administration has to
consider various perspectives
and balance the need to
minimise the economic
damage, minimise the extent
to which our rights are
limited as required by the
constitution, and help to save
lives from the coronavirus.
The reintroduction of the
alcohol ban tests those limits.
It is a fact that before the
Covid-19 pandemic, the
alcohol industry in SA was a
law-abiding, tax-paying
industr y. At the very least the
people involved in the alcohol
industr y deserve to be
consulted before any
restrictions are put in place.
This is important for the
entire industr y but more so
when it comes to small business owners operating in the
townships and rural areas.
The two organisations that
are most representative of this
group, the Gauteng Liquor
Forum and the Liquor Traders Association of South
Africa have already expressed
their opposition to the new
ban.
They argue that the Ri8bn
in lost sales and R3.4bn in
excise taxes for the alcohol
industry due to the original
nine-week ban means these
smaller establishments are
already under significant
pressure.
The loss in excise taxes in
particular should be a source
of worry for the government
going forward. There does
not seem to be any doubt as to
whether an alcohol ban has
the effect of promoting the
black market.
While the industry has
conceded government's point
about the increased hospital
admissions due to alcohol
consumption, the
fundamental point is that
any blanket ban amounts to a
punishment of the
responsible, legal part of the
industr y and market.
Indeed, the World Health
Organisation proposes a
range of evidence-based
measur es for reducing
alcohol consumption without
recommending a ban.
The representatives of the
alcohol industr y have
signalled their willingness to
accept some of the WHO
measures, such as setting to
the allowed blood alcohol
level to 0% while driving, and
the regulation of hours of the
day when alcohol may be
sold.
While none of these
measur es are likely to reduce
the black market supply, total
supply would likely be
reduced since the legal
industr y is preferred by
consumers.
The black market for
alcohol will not replace the
legal market in the short to
medium term, but there's a
real danger of losing market
share and consequently a
permanent reduction in tax
revenue from the industry.
The manner in which both
bans were instituted has led
to a serious breakdown of
trust between the
government and drinkers,
and the government and the
businesses involved in the
alcoholvalue chain (the
industr y claims that the
alcohol supply chain employs
more than a million people).
Similarly, announcing a
ban without giving citizens
who drink the chance to
stock up has further violated
the same contract.
To make matters worse, in
the same speech announcing
the ban, President Cyril
Ramaphosa akso said SA is
entering an expected peak in
the number of Covid-19
infections.
This means the
government knew the peak
was coming as they relaxed
the first alcohol ban. They
knew about the impact of
alcohol drinking on hospital
admissions and trauma
cases.
The president also said the
case fatality rate, at 1.5%, was
lower than expected yet the
government decided to ban
the sale of alcohol after lifting
a previous ban.
These seemingly irrational
actions can only undermine
respect for the law.





Reference : http://www.ornico.co.za/editorialstream/OwnMediaAttachments/2020_07_24_4903011.pdf