Vinpro approaches courts to overturn the ban on wine sales
By Christian Eedes, 27 January 2021
Industry body Vinpro is set to approach the Cape High Court regarding the current ban on local wine sales.
According to an official statement, urgent interim relief will be sought which would afford the Premier of the Western Cape the power to adopt deviations to enable off- and on-consumption sale of liquor in the province. Ultimately similar relief will be sought in respect of other provinces. The matter is set down for hearing on 5 February 2021.
Vinpro points to data showing that the numbers of new infections, active cases, and hospital admissions are now dropping fast across the country, but particularly in the Western Cape, and argues that in these circumstances, the liquor ban is simply no longer justified in the province. Accordingly, to the extent that the situation does not change for the worse, and if the liquor ban is still in force in the Western Cape by 5 February, the Court will be asked to invalidate Minister Dlamini-Zuma’s ban in the Western Cape with immediate effect.
The wine industry is in a dire position after a cumulative ban of 19 weeks since March 2020. This has resulted in a loss of more than R8 billion in direct sales and the possible closure of cellars and producers, threatening 27 000 jobs. Furthermore, with the 2021 harvest commencing this week, the industry now has more than 640 million liters of stock of which 300 million is uncontracted. This poses a risk of insufficient processing and storage capacity for the new harvest and threatens the sustainability of the wine industry.
Vinpro’s position is that the wrong level of government been dealing with the retail sale of liquor during the national state of disaster. Whereas the government has until now used nationwide bans, the contention is that a more flexible, nimble approach is needed – the provincial executive should be empowered to deal with the retail sale of liquor for the rest of the pandemic, because provincial authorities are normally responsible for regulating the sale of liquor and in charge of healthcare and provincial hospitals, thus making them better equipped to manage the balance between lives and livelihoods.
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