Government has just issued the Amendment of Regulations of the Disaster Management Act, which has confirmed the worst possible news for the South African wine industry. We are extremely disappointed with the regulations as the final document contradicts verbal commitment from national departments, within the economic cluster of Government.
In summary, only food products (including non-alcoholic beverages) are listed as essential products (please see Government Notice here) and seemingly the intent is that any trade and manufacturing of alcoholic products will have to cease during the lockdown. The notice specifically states that there will be no sales of any alcohol in the South African market within the 21-day period. The only service that may continue is the production of alcohol for industrial use.
Without dwelling on the merit, it is crystal clear that the potential threat of COVID-19, from a national security perspective, outweighed the economic priorities.
We are busy with an urgent application to Government to allow the following dispensations, for the wine and brandy industry, given the potential catastrophic economic and socio-economic implications of turning off the switches tomorrow evening.
Priority 1. It is essential that industry needs to complete harvesting activities in the next two weeks, and to secure the stock. In this regard, we are consulting with relevant stakeholders and will issue a directive in this regard.
Priority 2. We will also contest current regulations that prohibit the export of wine. This is an extremely important aspect for current and future economic sustainability and socio-economic stability.
We will keep you informed under these trying circumstances, and would like to ensure our members and stakeholders that we will remain focused and do our utmost to negotiate a more favourable position on the above-mentioned two priorities.
H J Basson | Managing Director | Vinpro