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Wine producers set to challenge alcohol sale ban in High Court

27 January 2021 7:46 PM
Tags:
Wine
Alcohol ban
The Money Show
Western Cape High Court
Bruce Whitfield
SAB
Job losses
VinPro
Lockdown
COVID-19
liquor ban
wine industry
Rico Basson

'Dialogue with govt is not working so as a last resort we decided to lodge an urgent application' - Vinpro MD Rico Basson.

Industry body Vinpro announced in January that it is approaching the courts to save the local wine industry.

Its court date is in view - the case is set down for 5 February in the Western Cape High Court.

Vinpro is seeking urgent interim relief as the third alcohol sales ban continues to devastate the wine business and threaten thousands of jobs.

RELATED: Wine industry runs out of storage due to ban - R1.5b's worth could be lost

It wants the court to give the power to provincial governments - starting with the Western Cape - to make decisions around the ban.

© belchonock/123rf.com

The non-profit company represents over 2,500 South African wine producers, cellars & industry stakeholders.

During the past year our industry has worked tirelessly to be part of the solution when our country found itself in the grip of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic. Despite continuous engagement with government... our proposals were not taken into account when the third ban was introduced on 28 December 2020.

Vinpro statement

Bruce Whitfield interviews Vinpro MD Rico Basson on The Money Show.

I think our frustration is just the consultancy part and the dialogue part with government is not working at the moment, notwithstanding so many submissions.

Rico Basson, MD - Vinpro

We are in a dire situation so therefore we, as a last resort, decided to lodge an urgent application and that's where we are.

Rico Basson, MD - Vinpro

Basson reels off the shocking lockdown figures: R8 billion lost in domestic wine sales; R3.7 billion lost in tourism and on and on.

He says the industry has been in dialogue with government "since Day One", going back ten months.

What's changed is that while we did seek legal options during most of the period last year, I just think beyond the 28th of December where a blanket approach was taken, it made it impossible for us to operate in an open environment where you've got no certainty or feedback.

Rico Basson, MD - Vinpro

The harvest is due; the wine tanks are full and at some point you need to exercise another option.

Rico Basson, MD - Vinpro

The industry is not contesting the link between strain on hospital trauma units and alcohol use.

However, he says, they have a problem with things like the empirical evidence being used to justify the ban, the strict curfew and the blanket approach to the provinces.

We think that the decision-making on the ban is done at the wrong level. It should be done at a provincial level and not national, because the premier of the province - and in our case Alan Winde - is in a better position to know exactly [the situation of] these hospitals and what the liquor legislation should be.

Rico Basson, MD - Vinpro

We did consider the benefit of possibly joining the South African Breweries (SAB) case... but we opted for a slightly different approach because there are material different factors.

Rico Basson, MD - Vinpro

Hear more from Basson in the audio clip below:




27 January 2021 7:46 PM
Tags:
Wine
Alcohol ban
The Money Show
Western Cape High Court
Bruce Whitfield
SAB
Job losses
VinPro
Lockdown
COVID-19
liquor ban
wine industry
Rico Basson

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