The family farming organisation Southern African Agri Initiative (Saai) will urgently approach the Northern Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on 18 August 2020 to have the ban on the sale and consumption of wine in restaurants set aside. The application comes after president Cyril Ramaphosa once again announced a complete ban on the sale and transportation of liquor on 12 July 2020.
“The implementation of these regulations is arbitrary and irrational. The government’s statement that the regulations are implemented to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus and prevent an overburdened healthcare system simply does not hold water. The government pretends to want to save the economy but applies double standards when it comes to the application thereof. Taxis pose a major threat in spreading the virus, yet they are allowed to function at 100% capacity. Restaurants may be open, but are banned from serving wine in a regulated, hygienic environment where physical distancing is applied,” says Francois Rossouw, CEO of Saai.
Threatening the existence of family farms
Saai argues that these regulations threaten the existence of some of the oldest family farms in South Africa. The regulations also shackle a sector that competes with the best in the world and plays a key role in the economy. The government already offers no drought relief or financial assistance to these farmers and ensures their end by closing their market.
“Contrary to what alcohol producers do, wine farming is not built on continuous profit-seeking. It is about inheritance, the transfer of knowledge from generation to generation, the integrity of the brand, the name on the label, and supporting a family and community. A wine farm is not just a vineyard with a cellar next to it. It is a destination where visitors and tourists may experience something tangible of the environment and area. Therefore, such a farm plays a fundamental role in the marketing of a region or province and its history. It depends not only on the support in terms of its product but also on that of a tourist attraction,” says Dr Theo De Jager, chairperson of Saai’s board of directors.
Saai will request the court to repeal schedules 44(1) and (2) of the new regulations and to allow the serving of wine on wine farms and in restaurants. Saai’s application is supported by 13 other applicants from the wine industry. – Press release, Saai