zweli mkhize ALCOHOL BAN

Photo: GCIS

Zweli Mkhize: SA ‘cannot lift alcohol ban’ until these three things happen

Hold the drinks, and put our champagne on ice: Zweli Mkhize has dashed hopes of the alcohol ban ending soon – as these three objectives must be met first.

zweli mkhize ALCOHOL BAN

Photo: GCIS

Just when things looked to be going in the right direction for the drinkers of South Africa, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has come along to – quite literally – burst the bubbles. Many liquor companies felt like their attempts to lift the alcohol ban were working, but it seems there will be no speedy conclusion to prohibition.

Distell had been in talks with the Cabinet, in a bid to put booze back on the shelves. The groups were optimistic that progress had been made, with some speculating that the alcohol ban may be lifted ‘next week’. Alas, the positive outlook may have been misplaced, and Mkhize didn’t sugarcoat the issue on Thursday – and it would appear the government has some very different views on when ale should return.

What needs to happen before the alcohol ban is lifted?

Speaking during a visit to KZN, the minister explained that there is a certain set of criteria that needs to be met before the government can lift the restrictions. Mkhize says that South Africa ‘has not reached a point’ where it can call time on the alcohol ban, and they’ll only be able to do so once these three things happen:

  • There has to be a solid decline in ‘the number of new coronavirus infections’.
  • The government needs to see measurable proof that ‘the need for hospital beds’ has been reduced.
  • Finally, Mkhize wants ’emphatic support’ from ICU doctors and senior medical professionals before the ban is lifted.

Zweli Mkhize defends extended prohibition

In a relatively bullish mood, Zweli Mkhize even dared members of the public to take him to court over the issue. Those in the liquor industry have been reluctant to seek litigation, but with the alcohol ban firmly fixed in place, a few leading figures may be tempted to accept the minister’s offer.

“When we deal with these issues, we take a view of the situation as it changes. The first thing that ICU specialists have told us is that alcohol-induced trauma is down. When the numbers are constantly improving, and the pressure for beds is reduced, we can reconsider the alcohol ban. But we are not at that point yet.”

“People can take us to court, we have no problem with that. We are doing this to save lives. There are real reasons to support the suspension of liquor. There are avoidable situations that can ease the pressure, everything else will open up when the numbers settle down – but we need more time.”

Zweli Mkhize on the alcohol ban