surinenglish

Prohibition, will they never learn?

It is an old axiom that every nation gets the government it deserves, and if this is applied worldwide, then we are not in good hands. It was ever thus.When Prohibition became law in the US a century ago, no-one had thought through the consequences, and the declared aims were never achieved. Alcohol consumption did not decrease and anti-government feeling swelled. South Africa has just adopted this misguided policy and consequently its wine industry is on the verge of collapse.

Inexplicably, not only are national wine sales banned, but also exports, leaving producers with bursting warehouses and no income. Why did one of the world's foremost wine-producing countries suddenly put a stop to any class of commercial activity involving wine? Surely everyone would benefit if exports were encouraged, particularly those workers in the vineyards who are currently threatened with redundancy?

The government states it needs to shut down non-priority commercial activity to concentrate on building hospitals and acquiring protective clothing, ventilators and medicines. But it has done none of these things. Similarly citing concerns about alcohol-induced trauma, road accidents, domestic and gender-based violence distracting medical staff from dealing with the rising number of Covid-19 infections, the ban is in force for as long it is deemed necessary.

In the bad old days of apartheid, control of alcohol was used as an instrument of repression by the white government. Strange therefore that the present regime is following the same irrational policy. Does killing off an industry worth huge amounts of foreign currency and employs countless native workers make sense?