The year of the pandemic has been a godsend for SA’s prohibitionists. It brought together in an unholy alliance an eclectic hotchpotch of players from across the political spectrum: Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the Medical Research Council/Dr Charles Parry, the Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance and Bheki Cele, united only in their common objective to impose more rigorous controls over the sale and distribution of liquor.

The game-changer for them was the ANC government’s decision to use the Disaster Management Act to direct SA’s response to Covid-19. Intended as legislation to deal with regional catastrophes such as floods and wildfires, the act is not subject to the same statutory review mechanisms mandated in the country’s emergency regulations. The choice of the Disaster Management Act enabled the government to suspend parliamentary oversight and freed the prohibitionist wing within the ANC to drive a number of policies that had been mooted in draft legislation but failed...

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