President Ramaphosa finally responds to liquor forum’s call to relax alcohol restrictions

17 December 2017. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa smilling during the open session at the ANC Elective conference at Nasrec. Picture: Simphiwe NKwali/ Sunday Times

The forum had given Ramaphosa until 12pm today to respond or face a court challenge, and his answer suggests that a relaxation might be coming by this weekend.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has asked the Gauteng Liquor Forum to give him until Friday to respond to its call for shebeens and taverns to be allowed to sell alcohol amid the nationwide lockdown.

The Gauteng Liquor Forum (GLF), a non-profit organisation of stakeholders representing about 20,000 micro and small businesses, argued in a letter that the lockdown extension to 30 April would “most likely” ruin their businesses.

It has called on the president to relax alcohol restrictions and allow shebeens to operate between 9am and 6pm on weekdays, and close at 1pm on Sundays and public holidays.

“It is also notable that the entire framework for disaster management is not subject to any parliamentary scrutiny and the risk for abuse of power is manifest,” the GLF said.

“The total ban on the selling of alcohol is unreasonable and it has no rational connection to the mischief which is sought to be prevented,” reads the letter.

It had further given Ramaphosa until 12pm today to respond or face a court challenge.

The president, through the state attorney, asked the GLF to wait until Friday after the National Command Council, Presidency and other relevant parties had met to discuss government’s economic assistance programme.

“This includes assistance offered to small businesses such as those of your clients and other measures to mitigate the effects of the lockdown extension. We anticipate that the results of these discussions may well have a bearing on the issues raised by your client. Therefore in order to be in a position to respond to your letter fully, we ask that you afford us until close of business day on Friday.

“For reasons set out above, we do not intend in this letter to address the allegations in your letter. However, we expressly reserve our right to respond in full to your letter in due course, to the extent necessary. Nothing contained in this letter must be understood as any concession or admission regarding any contention contained in your letter,” added the lawyer’s letter.

In the meantime, the GLF has been referred to the Tourism Relief Fund, which provides capped grant assistance to small, micro and medium-sized enterprises to ensure sustainability.

– The Citizen

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