POLITICAL NEWS - Following the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday night that lockdown regulations would be amended to allow for liquor sales, access to beaches and faith-based gatherings, as well as a shortened curfew, opposition parties are – perhaps predictably – at loggerheads over the new measures.
The official opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA), and the third-biggest party in Parliament, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), have opposing views on the new measures set out by Ramaphosa.
The DA was of the view that not enough was being done to ease the pressure that the continued lockdown – now well in excess of 300 days long – was placing on South Africans.
DA leader, John Steenhuisen tweeted in response to Ramaphosa’s announcement: “Stop spinning failure and get the #VaccineNow.”
He went on: “The lifting of the nonsensical beach ban, easing of alcohol restrictions and curfew is noted. However, these come too late to save all the jobs lost. The curfew must be lifted completely.”
On its official Twitter account, the DA added: “Freedom of movement is a basic civil liberty and there is absolutely no justification for denying it. Restaurants that haven’t yet shut shop need all the trading hours they can get. Government is the weakest link.”
The EFF, however, felt too much rope was being given.
Specifically, the party took issue with the relaxation of the laws prohibiting alcohol sales.
“The South African reality is that the livelihood benefits of alcohol trade are far outweighed by the negative healthcare and lived consequences it brings.” the party said in a statement,
The EFF insisted Ramaphosa had allowed the sale of alcohol “to please the alcohol manufacturing capitalist establishment”.
Reacting to the news of the liquor ban being lifted, the Beer Association of South Africa (BASA) said it “offered small businesses a glimmer of hope, although it may be too little too late for some”.
“The situation faced by small business owners and craft brewers remains dire – the last two alcohol bans had a devastating impact on the beer industry, with an estimated 7400 jobs lost, R14.2 billion in lost sales revenue and more than a R7.8 billion loss in taxes and excise duties,“ BASA said in a statement on Monday.
“Survey results from the Craft Brewers Association of South Africa indicate that 87.5% of craft brewers are still at risk of permanent closure – and with zero targeted relief from government, this will likely become a reality.”
The association said it had written to the Presidency and to the Department of Trade, Industry, and Competition to reiterate their call for urgent government intervention to save jobs and small businesses within the sector.