Let’s suffer patiently a little bit more

19 April 2020

Vusi Nzapheza

  • Straight & Two Beers

Covid-19 has shown that it loves crowded places like drinking holes

Ahead of the ANC’s national conference in 2017, the Gauteng provincial government saw the opportunity to make a quick buck.

Conferences of the ANC are jamborees with endless par­ties running parallel to the po­litical debates. Moneyed dele­gates are known for flaunting their wealth by splashing on expensive booze to impress slay queens and ice boys alike.

The government decided that, for the duration of the conference, alcohol outlets would be allowed to remain open beyond their usual trad­ing hours.

No sooner than this an­nouncement was made than then economic development MEC Lebogang Maile back­tracking amid accusations that the law was being bent for party political reasons. Gauteng still remains flexi­ble when it comes to the sale of alcohol.

For instance, it remains one of the few provinces that al­lows liquor stores to open on Sundays and public holidays.

In the wake of the coronavi­rus, booze has taken the flak from the authorities as one of the catalysts for the transmis­sion of the deadly contagion.

The clampdown on alcohol seemed well-reasoned given how Covid-19 is transmitted and how people behave at wa­tering holes, being all touchy-feely with each other and gen­erally misbehaving in their stupor. Suddenly, the Gaut­eng government now wants the restrictions on the sale of alcohol to remain beyond the virus’s lifespan.

Covid-19 has shown that it loves places where people gather in numbers, such as churches, schools, taverns, and stadiums. It is for this reason that the experts have urged us to starve the virus by staying at home.

So far so good, except that since the lockdown started, stock has been running low. Whereas you can replenish your grocery at any time, you cannot stock your bar since the sale of alcohol is banned during the lockdown.

As was bound to happen, the illicit sale of alcohol has spiked and the sellers have made a killing on the black market, leading to a spike in prices.

They clamoured for Pres­ident Cyril Ramaphosa to relax the rules and allow the limited sale of alcohol, but the president has turned a deaf ear. Booze, the government said, is not an essential item and people are better off with­out it.

However, an organisation called the Gauteng Liquor Forum is not taking this matter lying down. The forum has threatened to drag the president to court if he does not open the watering holes.

As a professional drink­er myself, I am inclined to agree with the forum, if on­ly on principle and solidarity. However, the truth is that if the government allows booze to flow, that would be the end of the lockdown.

Google reports that home-brewed beer was the most-searched word this week in South Africa. Clearly, the masses are getting thirsty and restless, hence there has been the looting of bot­tle stores. However, to avoid getting on the wrong side of cowboy Bheki Cele, I advice that you get started on that yeast, brown sugar and other ingredients necessary to make your intoxicant.

But please stay at home.


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