Wine or not, the effects are the same: NDZ in war of words in court battle

Co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma gives reasons why ban on sale of alcohol was necessary even during level 3 of the lockdown.
Co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma gives reasons why ban on sale of alcohol was necessary even during level 3 of the lockdown.
Image: Picture: 123RF

The effect of alcohol remains the same whether it is a result of drinking wine or any other form of liquor.

This is one of the submissions made by Cogta minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in response to an application by the Southern African Agri Initiative (Saai) against the ban on the sale of wine.

Saai teamed up with nine wine farms and associations in its court application, set to be heard in the high court in Pretoria later this month.

Saai and the wine farms have asked the court to declare that the regulations banning the sale of alcohol, issued on July 12, were unconstitutional and invalid to the extent that they prohibited the sale and transportation of wine.

In her answering affidavit filed on August 7, Dlamini-Zuma said Saai's case was premised on a fundamental error of evidence and reasoning — that wine is different to other types of alcohol in that its drinkers do not become intoxicated that the drinking of wine does not result in alcohol-related trauma.

“Thus, to allow wine, but disallow other types of liquor would also not achieve the purpose of alleviating the burden of alcohol-related hospital admissions and thus save lives, by protecting the health care system,” Dlamini-Zuma said.

She also said Saai's case was premised on the incorrect assertion that the sole purpose of the government's measures at level 3 was aimed at allowing all economic activity to proceed, as close as possible to pre-Covid-19 levels.

“It is not. The approach ... is to balance the government's constitutional obligations to protect life, the heath and wellbeing, and access to health care for the benefit of all South Africans, whilst at the same time allowing economic activity to proceed as best as possible,” she said.

However, Saai president Francois Rossouw, in his replying affidavit filed on Thursday, said the rights of dependants in the wine industry were being limited by the blanket ban on alcohol imposed by the regulations.

Rossouw said the livelihoods of those employed in the wine industry were essentially being destroyed by the ban.

“The right to life is impacted in this regard. Without sounding unsympathetic, it does not really assist to be protected from a virus only to be faced with starvation and adverse poverty.

Rossouw said the minister ought to also have considered the lives and livelihoods and the devastating economic impact of the ban.

“Although this application focuses on wine, there is also room to argue that the regulations are too restrictive in relation to other alcohol types, especially in the light thereof that it appears that the peak of Covid-19 pandemic has been reached and the new cases will now likely start declining,” Rossouw said.

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