In the wake of last week's looting, violence and destruction of property in certain provinces, South Africa is once again faced with unprecedented challenges. This includes the wine industry. While the industry stands in solidarity with all businesses and individuals affected by the events that unfolded last week, the wine industry itself is at the edge of a cliff after its revenue stream has been cut off intermittently over the past 16 months.
"Many legal, tax-paying wine and tourism businesses, especially smaller companies who do their part to keep the economy afloat, are facing potential closures, leaving thousands of employees struggling to feed their families," says Rico Basson, Vinpro MD. "This, while illicit trade continues to flourish, including the looting of various liquor traders and distributors last week."
To rebuild the sector, urgent interventions are needed, says Basson.
These interventions, says Basson, includes the responsible reopening of the legal wine trade according to a risk-adjusted approach which differentiates between provinces.
"Law and order need to prevail with regard to the abuse/misuse of alcohol, including illicit trade, as well as the enforcement of regulations in place and financial relief. Tangible support from government is crucial to help rebuild this sector. A partnership model is needed to ensure a targeted approach towards harm reduction and behavioural change," adds Basson.
“Vinpro continues to pursue these objectives. A continued lack of consultation and assistance from national government, unfortunately, means that we need to pursue legal action as a last resort to urgently reopen trade and prevent further business closures and job losses, says Basson.
Vinpro has confirmed that its legal team is ready to argue its urgent interim interdict application in the Western Cape High Court which is confirmed for Wednesday, 21 July 2021. This would allow the Premier of the Western Cape the power to adopt deviations to the national ban to enable off- and on-consumption sale of liquor in the province.
If successful, Vinpro will approach the court to seek similar relief for other provinces.
"We also remain committed to seeing through our main court application that is set down for hearing in the Western Cape High Court before a full bench from 23 to 26 August 2021."