To put it mildly, it is difficult to understand the Government’s reasons for re-imposing the ban on wine exports a mere 10 days after lifting it.
Is the Treasury so flush with cash that it does not need the taxes due on the profits? Surely not. Is the Health Minister worried about farm labourers picking grapes while ignoring a safe personal distance from each other? That seems a bit thin.
What seems to be the reason has nothing whatever to do with dictating better health habits in a time of lockdown, or for that matter reducing alcohol-fueled gender-based violence.
Rather, the ban is aimed at reducing the temptation of gangsters to steal wine when it is being taken to the ports for export – the order to cease and desist being given by non-other than the Minister of Transport, presumably at the urging of the head of the police service.
Every way one looks at it, it seems a prime example of the exercise of power for the thrill of it, regardless of the damage it does, in this instance, to the Treasury which needs every cent in tax revenue it can raise from the private sector.
The way things are going, some people are beginning to think some measures taken to fight the spread of Covid-19 are akin to a man shooting himself in the foot because he is suffering from gout. The sooner this ban is lifted, the sooner our economy will recover once the emergency is over. Leaving it in place serves no purpose; does great harm to a major foreign exchange-generating industry; starves the Treasury of resources needed for the emergency; and is no help to thousands of farm workers and their families.
President of the Cape Chamber