Finally, after R36bn in lost sales and with 200,000 jobs at stake, the alcohol industry has had enough. Until now, with the exception of the feisty SA Breweries, the industry’s response to three alcohol bans has been akin to former president Thabo Mbeki’s quiet diplomacy towards Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe: say as little as possible and hope the trouble goes away.

Now, however, the penny seems to have dropped that as soon as infections spike, prohibition is the go-to remedy for officials like co-operative governance minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and police minister Bheki Cele...

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