The Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance in SA (SAAPA SA) is concerned that the alcohol industry (SAB and Vinpro) is using the courts to challenge government’s right to control access to alcohol as part of the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While SAAPA SA does not encourage the suspension of access to alcohol, we believe that this must be a weapon that government can use as a short-term emergency measure to protect South African’s from the coronavirus ie in terms of ensuring hospital beds are available for COVID-19 patients and in terms of containing the virus. It has been shown that alcohol-driven social events can be a super-spreader and so should be discouraged, especially when the infection rate is high.
The Disaster Management Act of 2002 gives government the authority to restrict or suspend access to alcohol. If the alcohol industry succeeds in their case, they will make it more difficult for government to deal with a disaster or an emergency in the future. Even if they don’t, their case is resulting in a distraction and a financial burden that government and the country can ill-afford at this time.
SAAPA SA has started a petition calling on the alcohol industry to withdraw their court challenges. We already have close on 1 000 signatures and we would like to get many, many more. We are therefore calling on all civil society organisations and individuals to support the petition and to get others to support it as well.
We are particularly reaching out to public health workers and other front-line staff who are in the forefront of dealing with the pandemic and who put their lives at risk every day to help those who are infected with the virus. We believe that government needs to be able to control access to alcohol to make is easier for health workers to do their job and to protect them from the risk of contracting the virus themselves.
Please visit the petition at https://awethu.amandla.mobi/petitions/unite-behind-the-covid-19-effort-and-tell-sab-to-stop-their-alcohol-ban-court-challenge and consider signing it. Please also help us by forwarding it to people and organisations that you believe might be willing to sign up as well. Every vote counts.
Thank you. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on 082 3737705.
Maurice – Director, SAAPA SA
Please note: we are NOT asking people to support a ban on alcohol. We are asking only for the alcohol industry to withdraw their cases and allow government to do what it needs to do to stop alcohol becoming a threat to the fight against the coronavirus and to protect the lives of the people of South Africa.