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Big booze showdown brewing

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Ban on transport of alcohol looks set to further deepen the differences between Ramaphosa and liquor forum

A MAJOR showdown is looming between President Cyril Ramaphosa and tavern and shebeen owners in Gauteng following the government’s new lockdown regulation banning the transportation of alcoholic beverages for the next two weeks.

The new and added regulations announced by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on Thursday came while the Gauteng Liquor Forum was expecting Ramaphosa’s response to its letter of demand to relax restrictions on sale and distribution.

The forum, through its legal representative Eric Mabuza, had initially given Ramaphosa until Wednesday to respond to its demands but Ramaphosa requested a delay until Friday to respond to their demand.  

In his request, Ramaphosa said he would respond after a meeting of the National Command Council on Friday.

Dlamini-Zuma’s announcement looks set to further deepen the differences between Ramaphosa and the forum, which has threatened to approach the high court to force the government to relax the restrictions.

While Ramaphosa is expected to pen his response, Dlamini-Zuma was adamant that “there will be no transportation of alcohol until the end of the lockdown”.

The added restriction came after police last week arrested six employees of SAB over the transportation of alcohol worth R13 million near Chamdor in Kagiso, outside Krugersdorp.

On Thursday, Mabuza, who appeared surprised by the announcement, said they would announce their course of action after obtaining Ramaphosa’s letter on Friday.

There was relief for mineworkers after Dlamini-Zuma announced that at least 50% of them would be allowed to return to work. Initially, the regulations allowed coal mines to operate but Dlamini-Zuma said these have now been extended to other mines.

She said the decision was prompted by a report that government had received indicating that some mines faced the danger of rockfalls if they are not operational.