Government has banned sales of alcohol for 19 weeks overall since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis in South Africa last year.

New research, paid for by Distell but conducted independently of the company, says that not only has that cost the economy R2bn a week in growth and much more in excise taxes, but that it hasn’t had much effect at all on hospitals, which according to the government, the bans were implemented to protect. The research is explosive. The 60% drop in trauma at South African hospitals matches similar trauma unit statistics from all over the world during other lockdowns. Neither the UK (down 57%), Italy (-57%) and the US (-54%) banned the sale of alcohol. So why us?

Listen to the latest edition of Podcasts from the Edge with Peter Bruce as he talks to Ian McGorian, who did the research, and to SA Liquor Brand Owners Association chair Sibani Mngado to try and unpack the slippery thinking that drives the huge and influential anti-alcohol lobby in South Africa and inside its government, which should perhaps know better.

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