The Democratic Alliance (DA) has been reliably informed that there is a strong lobby within the ANC by certain Ministers to reintroduce another ban on alcohol as soon as possible.
This group of Ministers include Police Minister Bheki Cele, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula and Cooperative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Over the last few days, Minister Mbalula has led the public charge in claiming that the laws need to be “reviewed” after a number of alleged alcohol-related car crashes. He has also said that “people are out of control in terms of alcohol”. These accidents and lives lost are tragic but should not be used to drive a political ideology as we suspect.
We are also seeing a push by the Gauteng Health department to claim that hospitals are “under pressure” due to alcohol-related trauma and taking up hospital beds, despite declining Covid infections and deaths. This however is a false narrative as even under the best circumstances, hospitals in ANC-run provinces are short of beds due to chronic under-investment and corruption.
South Africa is also well versed in Minister Cele’s threats of bans and punishment for “bad behaviour” as well as his deep-seated opposition to alcohol.
Any attempt by the ANC to use another alcohol ban as a battering ram to drive home political ideology will be met with strong resistance by the DA.
There are too many jobs that have been lost already due to ANC infighting over alcohol and the unwillingness of the President to stare down his detractors.
That is why it is critical that President Ramaphosa reassures South Africans that he will not consider any political pressure by the ANC or these Ministers in his cabinet with respect to reinstating another alcohol ban. Anything short of this will only allow speculation to grow unchallenged.
The ANC should rather put its efforts towards reviving the stalled Liquor Amendment Bill which has been stuck in cabinet for the last four years. While not perfect, the bill will allow MPs to work towards dealing with issues like access to liquor by minors and provinces being able to levy taxes on sales to fund cost recovery models.
It is time that South Africa is freed from the continual hostage-taking games being played out in the ANC as ordinary citizens are paying with their jobs and future.
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