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Michael Fridjhon: Govt using alcohol as a 'scapegoat' for its failure to prepare

15 July 2020 8:00 PM
Tags:
Wine
Alcohol ban
Michael Fridjhon
COVID-19

Renowned wine expert Michael Fridjhon has lambasted SA government for reinstating an alcohol ban that spells catastrophe for the wine and agricultural economy.

Fridjhon, one of the country’s most widely consulted liquor industry authorities, says the alcohol ban reflects very poorly on South Africa's government.

He argues that the government is blaming alcohol for its failure to prepare for the Covid-19 peak.

Fridjhon has flagged some of the data published in relation to alcohol-related trauma admissions at state hospitals.

Furthermore, he says law enforcement authorities have failed in their duty to police the abuse of alcohol.

Alcohol has been made the scapegoat for the government's inability to prepare for the spike it knew was coming.

Michael Fridjhon, International wine expert

You don't ban motor cars because somebody has a motor car accident. You don't ban kitchen knives because somebody is stabbed with it.

Michael Fridjhon, International wine expert

It's a knee-jerk reaction or something much worse from the government.

Michael Fridjhon, International wine expert

Alcohol-related trauma is a failure of policing not a failure of alcohol. No wonder Bheki Cele hates alcohol. It shows up how poorly the police do their job.

Michael Fridjhon, International wine expert

Fridjhon says the alcohol ban will have a knock-on effect on the agricultural sector as well as the hospitality, and tourism industry.

The wine judge predicts that the ban will force many of South Africa's wineries to close, leaving winegrowers out to dry.

There are projections within the industry that wineries that buy fruit from growers will simply not be buyers next year. So real catastrophe will initially at the grower level.

Michael Fridjhon, International wine expert

There are 3,000 growers - a number that's already reduced over the last 20 years.

Michael Fridjhon, International wine expert

For many of these guys, there is no point now in keeping a vine in the ground... it's a really big knock.

Michael Fridjhon, International wine expert

It means that going forward the industry will have less fruit; less fruit means turnover; less turnover means an industry that's seriously constrained.

Michael Fridjhon, International wine expert

Wineries have lost two months and they might lose another two because there is no end in sight for this...

Michael Fridjhon, International wine expert

They will just give up. They'll try and liquidate their stock. They will not be buyers of fruit next year. They will mothball their wineries or sell off the equipment if they can, or leave for the bank to collect.

Michael Fridjhon, International wine expert

And then there will be a knock-on effect on the whole agricultural economy.

Michael Fridjhon, International wine expert

Listen to the discussion on Afternoon Drive with John Maytham:


15 July 2020 8:00 PM
Tags:
Wine
Alcohol ban
Michael Fridjhon
COVID-19

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