Africa News Mon, 13 Jul 2020
The immediate ban on alcohol sales here in South Africa has not only come as a shock to many but has been met with unhappiness from some quarters.The country’s main opposition party the Democratic Alliance has accused the government of using the alcohol ban as a scapegoat for its failures to provide adequate health care amid the coronavirus crisis.
Businesses are not thrilled either. The alcohol industry is a massive employer and concerns have been expressed about how the livelihoods of those who rely on this industry will be protected in the coming weeks.
But President Cyril Ramaphosa and his government believe the decision - though a difficult one to make - is necessary if the country has any hope to saving lives.
Coronavirus infections have skyrocketed in the last two weeks, putting huge pressure on the health system - especially state hospitals which 80% of the population depend on.
They are simply running out of beds and part of that, according to health experts, is due to alcohol-related trauma cases.
Some 40,000 trauma cases seen in hospitals here in recent weeks are alcohol-related - something the health system cannot afford right now.
It has come down to a crude balance between saving lives and preserving livelihoods - and it’s an impossible dance.