Ramaphosa faces liquor war as owners take him on

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Johannesburg – The new and added regulations announced by Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma on Thursday came while the Gauteng Liquor Forum was expecting President Cyril Ramaphosa’s response to its letter of demand to relax restrictions on the sale and distribution of alcohol.

The forum, through its legal representative, Eric Mabuza, had initially given Ramaphosa until Wednesday to respond to their demands – but Ramaphosa requested a delay until Friday.

In his request, Ramaphosa said he would respond after a meeting of the National Command Council on Friday.

Now, Dlamini Zuma’s announcement looks set to further deepen the differences between Ramaphosa and the Liquor Forum, which has threatened to approach the high court to force the government to relax the restrictions.

While Ramaphosa is expected to pen his response, Dlamini Zuma was adamant that “there will be no transportation of alcohol until the end of the lockdown”.

The added restriction came after the police last week arrested six employees of SAB for the transportation of alcohol worth R13million near Chamdor, in Kagiso, outside Krugersdorp.

Detailing the new regulations, Dlamini Zuma said: “The only alcohol that may be transported is for commercial purposes, such as hand sanitisers.

“The transportation of essential goods is permitted from warehousing sites to essential service providers, with the exception of the transportation of liquor,” Dlamini Zuma said.

On Thursday, Mabuza, who appeared surprised by the announcement, said they would announce their course of action after obtaining Ramaphosa’s response on Friday.

However, there was relief for mineworkers after Dlamini Zuma announced that at least 50% of mineworkers at different mines in the country would be allowed to return to work.

She said the decision was prompted by a report that stipulated that some mines faced a danger of rockfalls if they were not operational.

“We agreed that these mines must start to operate at a level of 50% of their workforce, under strict conditions. The mine owners must conduct screening and testing for their employees. They must also have quarantine facilities for all those workers who test positive for the virus. And the companies must arrange transport for their employees,” Dlamini Zuma said.

Indicating that the government was working towards an orderly phase-out of the lockdown, Dlamini Zuma said petrol and diesel retailers had been allowed to go back to work to ramp up the availability of the products before the end of the lockdown. Hardware, vehicle repairs retailers, call centres and information and communications technology services had also been allowed to return to work.

Dlamini Zuma said regulations relating to funerals remained the same.

The government said plumbers and electricians would be allowed to visit homes to fix broken utilities, and that hardware stores and vehicle workshops – especially those fixing essential services vehicles – were also allowed to open.

Dlamini Zuma said that the government would introduce relaxed regulations weekly.

Political Bureau

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** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the government’s 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or go to SA Coronavirus for more information.

By BALDWIN NDABA 

Credit: www.iol.co.za

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