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120 wine farmers take government to court

Calling the liquor ban ‘irrational, arbitrary and unreasonable’.
Willing sellers, willing buyers – but the industry is losing R300m a week in local sales, and lost another R1bn during the five-week ban on exports. Image: James Whitlow Delano, Bloomberg

The South African Agri-Initiative (Saai) is the first body in the alcohol industry to take the South African government to court to challenge its controversial Covid-19 liquor ban.

The ban on the sale of liquor products was initially instituted in late March when the country entered a strict lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus. It was lifted in June and reintroduced on July 12.

Saai, representing over 120 farmers in the country, on Monday applied to the Pretoria High Court for an urgent hearing, calling the ban “irrational, arbitrary and unreasonable”.

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In its court papers, it detailed the devastating effect the continued ban is having on the industry’s revenues and on the livelihoods of its employees.

Open up wine restaurants 

It said the ban is also affecting wine farms’ revenues by preventing wine tasting at cellars and in their restaurants, pointing out that many of the farmers are also restaurateurs themselves, or rent their facilities to independent restaurant operators.

“Many wine farmers in the Western Cape operate as a family business – some over many generations – which are predominantly small- and medium-sized enterprises,” it said.

The ban has had a significant negative impact on their revenue, and Saai would like to see their normal business operations reinstated. It said the farmers and restaurateurs are struggling to pay waiters, chefs and store managers, and are barely keeping afloat.

“The commercial impact of Covid-19 is far less on the liquor industry than on local wine, of which the financial [success] depends on South Africa sales. The wine farm industry cannot survive the devastating impact of a total ban of local wine sales for the four to six months.”

It also pointed out that it is “irrational” to keep the on-site consumption of alcohol ban in place while allowing restaurants and hotels to reopen and serve meals to their patrons.

“The continued ban on the sale of wine for [the] purpose of on-site consumption on wine farms, restaurants and in hotels had been irrational and the applicants commenced the preparation of the application papers for urgent relief,” it said.

It adds that the same health and hygiene protocols for serving meals can be applied in respect of the serving of wine for on-site consumption.

It also questions whether the outright ban on the sale and transport of all liquor is reasonable and justifiable as contemplated by Section 36 of the Constitution, as it cannot be answered without considering the right of wine farmers to produce and sell wine. It further questions the impact of the government’s fight against the pandemic.

Extent of the impact

According to the SA Wine Industry Information & Systems (Sawis) executive manager Yvette van der Merwe, the wine industry lost R200 million per week on exports during the five weeks of no exports and is continuing to lose R300 million per week in local sales – and this is just the direct impact.

She says indirect costs – such as lost reputation internationally, listings, shelf space and relationships built over 30 years – are incalculable.

And because the impact on the wine industry has been so bad, Sawis estimates that more than 80 wineries and almost 350 producers may soon be out of business, says Van der Merwe. This would result in 18 000 workers becoming unemployed, with 4 000 of these being farm workers. This equates to 15% to 20% of the sector.

“The implications of the lockdown are irreparable. As mentioned before, some businesses will close and thousands of people will lose their jobs – across production units, wineries and also in the tourism sector.”

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Methinks maybe some guys want them to go bankrupt so that they can buy these fro themselves – or maybe just expropriate unused assets ne !!!

Casper you nailed it, this is about EWC without the fanfare. Just take bankrupt farms, so innocent.

Question is why did the good business go down?

Yep – Cyril and Patrice – The new Stellenbosch Mafia…

Of course it’s intentional. Together with the deliberate targeting of tourism, it is designed to impoverish the Western Cape and to drive more voters into voting for socialist lunacy.

A simple call to the the person the Wine farmers recently praised as being “Annointed by God” should suffice . . . . . . but I fear wily old Cyril has mesmerized them all – and then betray them.

I believe that Tobacco ban has better chance of being upset by courts than wine and liquor ban – but lets see how the lawyers go this time

I have my doubts if a court case will succeed. It appears that the judiciary is captured to support Govt decisions. Tobacco has already proved the point.

Exactly what the cadres did a to a very large construction company that had the country’s only nuclear build capabilities….ran it into the ground trying to pick it up for their crony mates. Disgusting thieves, this is their next play.

I will not be surprised if this is true. These officials are so small minded in their thinking and asking of them to think beyond self-enrichment is near impossible. anc Strategy; String voters and taxpayers along (the two are very different bodies) and steal all you can at the same time.

In vino Veritas… “in wine lies the truth”,

The government is deliberately bankrupting people and businesses.

I really don’t wanna hear the legal arguments.

The one questions I have is were the wine farmers sober during this legal bid?

Allow online ordering and delivery. Will solve 80% of the problems!!!

Buying and delivery is not the problem – consumption and what comes next is the problem to the Rulers – – thats when they are looking for an excuse to strengthen their power hold on SA

Lot’s of conspiracy theory comments.

Nope. I have just watched an interview with a UCT academic about the ban on cigarettes. His group has done research on the usage of tobacco now and found that all the so-called scientific reasons are absolute rubbish. So, according to him, it is impossible to justify the ban on smoking. Now if a ban on smoking, or alcohol, in this case, makes absolutely zero sense, what else remains? As the learned prof said, the only explanation is a political motive. You call it a conspiracy theory, I call it malicious, political motives.

The biggest killer of people in SA is the taxi industry. Ban that.

I think we all here attribute far too much intelligence to the ANC in being manipulative in banning wine sales.

They could not organise an orgy in a wine cellar.

Do not forget, we have an abundance of Rare Earth minerals. Far more valuable to the chinese masters of our country than gold, wine, sheep and cows.

The case seems to miss the main point – the violence that comes from drinking and fills the hospital beds comes from the shebeens – it is the shebeens that needs to be shut down – not the rest of the country.

A mob of sheep follow their lambs when something startles them. The ewes run after the lambs. Those who are supposed to know better follow the most ignorant among them. We say sheep are stupid, but humans elect the least capable individuals to lead them. Intelligent people follow politicians. People are nothing better than sheep.

Slip if the finger there. “Intelligent people follow politicians”. ? Sarcasm maybe ?

At the foundation of this debate lies the question: If China did not inform the WHO about the new covid virus, how would things have been different?

Less than 0.1% of the population would have died due to a severe form of “flue”. Medical professionals would advise people to get tested and treated for diabetes because it is the highest risk factor. They would say that the real killer is diabetes, that the “flue” is a complication of diabetes. In reality, this is exactly what it is. That makes covid a lifestyle disease. Now we are forced to decimate the economy because some individuals made certain lifestyle choices.

There would not have been any lockdown that causes financial devastation. No ban on alcohol and cigarettes. No escalation in unemployment and bankruptcies. People would have carried on with their lives as normal.

Panda will be proven correct. They said that the people that will die because of lockdown will be a hundred times more than those who will die of covid. That is is the crux of the matter. Lockdown is a self-inflicted human catastrophe, driven by ignorance.

I remember Cyril Ramaphosa’s first inauguration speech. He had so many dreams, one of which was to double the tourism/hospitality industries.

That dreams is long gone now! May the dreams of an invigorated South Africa rest in peace.

I’ve come to realize that the ANC is NOT a political party doing a really bad job but a money making scheme doing a really excellent job by providing exceptional ROI to their excellent entrepreneurs (read ANC leaders / politicians) through wasteful expenditure of our taxes. This realization has significantly reduced my blood pressure and increased my happiness factor.

Indeed so. The lockdown gives the ANC and its comradely cadres huge opportunity for self-enrichment, of state coffers and all raised outside of this. For both the party and the members.

End of comments.

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