SA can export wine, Mr President. Now allow us to buy it.

Grapes of joy

By John Fraser

To the delighted relief of the entire Cape Wine industry, our government has seen sense and clarified the rules to allow the transportation to, and export of, wine and “any other fresh produce products” through SA’s ports and airports.

It boggles the mind that there was any confusion about wine and other types of alcohol after the ban was lifted on the movement and export of “non-essentials”, though many of us would have branded booze an essential from Day 1 of the lockdown restrictions.

As a result of this clarification, a vital export lifeline is there, which will bring much relief to an industry which has seen its domestic sales banned by a state which many believe has taken the exercise of its authority far too far.

Said wine industry group Vinpro:

The South African wine industry is truly grateful to Government and all the respective role-players for showing an understanding for the industry’s challenges through this concession, as nearly half of South Africa’s wine production is exported and a restriction on exports would have a severe effect on wine-related businesses, but most importantly the livelihood of close to 300 000 people employed by the wine industry value-chain.

The latest decision by Government follows on an earlier concession for the wine industry to complete harvesting and processing activities to prevent wastage during the 21 day lockdown.

Surely the double standards cannot persist?  If wine and other booze are good enough to sell to foreigners, they are good enough to consume here at home, and should once again be freely sold.

Should the lockdown not be lifted at the end of next week, a move which would be sensible from a public health perspective, many of us will continue to be spending almost all of our time stuck in our homes.

I am not advocating excess, but a few drinks at the end of a long day can enhance the pleasure and soothe the troubled soul.   To prevent this by stopping purchases, as has happened since the lockdown began, is going a step too far.

So come on, Cyril.  It’s time for common sense.

Or if you really believe a booze ban is justified and defensible, then publicly pour away the contents of the Presidential wine cellar and all other stocks of booze in the homes and offices of state employees.

No?   I thought not.

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