The South African Liquor Brandowners Association (Salba) has written to Ministerial Advisory Council (MAC) chairperson Professor Koleka Mlisana, calling for the release of the information that informed the MAC’s recommendation to the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) to reimpose a ban on all alcohol.
Salba chairperson Sibani Mngadi notes that, although the new Delta variant of the virus has been reported in more than 80 countries, South Africa stands out as a country that has chosen to implement a total alcohol sales ban as part of its intervention to address challenges associated with the pandemic.
Therefore, he says, Salba would like to understand what international best practice or local scientific data was used for the MAC to conclude that trading of alcohol for off-site and on-site consumption needed to be banned.
Mngadi says the MAC should substantiate its claims and not ignore other significant socioeconomic activities that might be driving the rise in infections.
He says South Africa and its citizens deserved clarification on how the current 14-day ban of alcohol sales is supposed to alter infection trends.
“[The] MAC has indicated that the current wave of infections is driven by the Delta variant of the virus, which was first reported in India,” notes Mngadi.
However, Salba has verified that none of the states in India banned alcohol sales as part of the country’s response to the Delta variant of Covid-19 infections.
He says Salba has repeatedly called on the government to learn from other countries’ solutions which balance saving lives while not collapsing the national economy and destroying people’s livelihoods.
As such, Salba has requested that the MAC make this information available as soon as possible to enable a proper review ahead of the July 11 expiry date of the current restrictions. “In the interest of scientific transparency, we believe the MAC should not have a problem in sharing this information,” says Mngadi.
Meanwhile, Salba and the broader alcohol industry state that they share the concerns about the sharp rise in Covid-19 infections and the threat to life this poses for the people of South Africa.
In this regard, Salba requests the government reassess its response to the Covid-19 pandemic by implementing more effective measures, including addressing its handling of the vaccine rollout.
This, the organisation says, will have greater success in curbing the sharp rise in infection rates during the third wave.