Vinpro says court challenge to ban wine sales will go ahead

20 July 2021 - 16:12
By ernest mabuza AND Ernest Mabuza
The wine industry is ready to argue before the high court  why it wants the ban on the sale of wine in the Western Cape lifted. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/ROSTISLAYSDLACEK The wine industry is ready to argue before the high court why it wants the ban on the sale of wine in the Western Cape lifted. Stock photo.

The wine industry says its legal team was ready to argue its urgent application on Wednesday to have the ban lifted on the sale of wine in the Western Cape.

“We can confirm our legal team is ready to argue our urgent interim interdict application in the Western Cape High Court which is confirmed for Wednesday,” said Vinpro MD Rico Basson.

He said this would give Western Cape premier Alan Winde the power to adopt deviations to the national ban to enable off-site and on-site consumption and sales of liquor in the province.

Vinpro, an organisation representing about 2,600 wine and grape producers, said the wine industry was at the edge of a cliff after its revenue stream was intermittently cut off over the past 16 months.

“Many legal, tax-paying wine and tourism businesses, especially smaller companies who do their part to keep the economy afloat, are facing potential closures, leaving thousands of employees struggling to feed their families,” said Basson.

He said Vinpro remained committed to seeing through its main court application that was set down for hearing in the Western Cape high court before a full bench from August 23 to 26.”

In that challenge, Vinpro said not only was the wrong level of government dealing with decision-making regarding the sale of liquor during the state of disaster [national instead of provincial], but the implementation of the nationwide bans was overbroad, unnecessary and unjustified.

This is the second challenge against the latest ban on the sale of liquor.

Earlier in July, the Western Cape High Court heard an urgent application by SA Breweries challenging the ban. SAB argued that cooperative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma did not have powers to impose a wholesale and indefinite prohibition of the sale of liquor.

The court reserved judgment.

Meanwhile, the SA Liquor Brand owners Association (Salba) said the public deserves to know on what scientific basis the government made the decision to ban alcohol sales.

Salba said the ministerial advisory council on Covid-19 (MAC) has declined to confirm whether the current ban of the sale of alcohol was based on a scientific recommendation from it.

Salba said when President Cyril Ramaphosa banned the sale of liquor on June 27, he said the MAC had advised that the limited restrictions previously imposed were not that effective and that a prohibition of alcohol sales would ease the pressure on hospital services due to alcohol-related emergency incidents.

Salba said following Ramaphosa’s address, it wrote to MAC chairperson Prof Koleka Mlisana requesting the scientific data that informed its recommendation to ban alcohol sales.

In her response sent to Salba, Mlisana did not confirm Ramaphosa’s assertion that the MAC recommended the total ban of alcohol sales for 14 days and the further extension of this ban announced by the president on July 11.

Salba said this was disturbing, especially given the economic losses suffered by the sector in recent weeks.

“Either our government or the panel of esteemed experts in the MAC is misleading the public about the scientific basis of the decision to ban alcohol sales, which has far-reaching economic consequences for the country,” said Salba chairperson Sibani Mngadi.