South African Breweries: The govt is discriminating against industry workers and their families

Alcohol. Picture: iStock/Gallo Images

  • The South African Breweries (SAB) has attacked the alcohol ban, saying that government has unfairly criminalised the industry, and were discriminating against its workers and their families
  • The SAB says it would ‘consider all options and pursue every possible alternative to protect the lives and livelihoods of those depending on it’
  • It says it supports over a million livelihoods throughout its value chain

The South African Breweries (SAB) launched a blistering attack on the alcohol ban, saying on Tuesday that the government has unfairly criminalised the industry, and that it would ‘consider all options’ to protects the livelihoods of those depending on it.

The company said in a statement that it had heeded President Cyril Ramaphosa’s initial call to form a social compact with industry players and social partners to reduce the harmful consumption of alcohol, especially amongst consumers who “unfortunately, have not behaved responsibly.”

“A firm belief of ours, that needs to be reiterated to those consumers who choose to behave irresponsibly with our products, is that our products are not for you.”

The SAB, a division of AB Inbev, the world’s largest brewer, said thousands of its employees proposed interventions “that if implemented along with other social measures, would support the objective of flattening the curve”. 

“However, as an organization we respectfully disagree with the alcohol ban as announced yesterday, which took place with minimal consultation,” it said.

“Our industry supports over one million livelihoods throughout our value chain, across farming, retail, manufacturing, logistics and many SMMEs [small, medium and micro enterprises] whose livelihoods are at stake due to the suspension of alcohol trading.” 

On Monday Ramaphosa, while acknowledging that the liquor industry is a major employer and an important contributor to SA’s economy, announced that the sale of alcohol by retail outlets and the on-site consumption of alcohol will not be permitted.

He said reckless behaviour due to alcohol intoxication has contributed to increased infections and alcohol-related accidents and violence are putting pressure on hospitals and health workers.

On Sunday South Africa passed the one million mark of confirmed coronavirus cases. Nearly 27 000 South Africans are known to have died from Covid-19 and more than 50 000 new cases have been reported since Christmas Eve.

The SAB said on Tuesday that it did not agree with the sector being “continuously criminalised and called out as the most significant cause of the recent increase in cases”.

“Our industry, our colleagues and our families cannot be discriminated against. We judge this as not only unfair but that it disregards the more than 125 years of effort and dedication we have delivered together,” it said.

“In light of the announcement, we at SAB will consider all options and pursue every possible alternative to protect the lives and livelihoods that depend on us, in order to continue operating responsibly and to generate the economic upliftment that is so desperately required for our country now.” 

*Compiled by Ahmed Areff

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