Opportune Moment to Change Behavior

During the current pandemic must we also, as a society have an increase of personal and economic depressions?

Since President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the return to Alert Level 3 lockdown rules on 28 December 2020 and also calling for suspension of liquor sales, with the good intention to save lives but met with mixed reactions from the public.

The gratitude has been of relief in hospitals experiencing a reduction in a number of patients admitted in the trauma unit. Although the growing number of covid patients is of concern the capacity to handle incoming cases optimally in the second wave of the pandemic is stabilizing.
Another challenge is the fear and possibility of looming losses of livelihoods for businesses and some of the employees in related industries.

Some of the local traders mention that they stand to lose income from the alcohol ban. However they remain stoic about the fact that the ban is due to destructive behaviour recorded from some of their patrons. The challenge for them now remains on how to formulate new ways to earn a living such as possibly diversifying their businesses. Some of the elderly traders have succumbed to old age and may not be able to easily adapt to new ventures suffice to say that the state pension grant is insufficient to cover all their living expenses. For some there’s just no other skill nor product to ply elsewhere to earn an income nor is it any easier to find new business or employment opportunities during the pandemic. There are more looming reports of retrenchments in contrast to a booming economy and inherent employment opportunities.

To salvage the situation other industry players such as the national brewery itself reportedly argue for responsible drinking while other commentators dismiss the notion claiming “there’s no such thing as responsible drinking”. But indeed shouldn’t this not be an opportune time of balancing both demands to not influence behaviour against binge drinking that arguably is a contributor to irresponsible violent behaviour which frequently lands people in hospitals particularly during weekends? Shouldn’t this not be an opportune time to learn new ways of dealing with stress, life’s stress, such as psychological or psychiatric counselling and not abuse of alcohol as a non-medical antidepressant? Why not normalise open intra and inter personal communication to confront challenges in our daily living?

In Soweto it is not the first time that liquor traders have experienced closure because of growing unsavoury community living conditions as a result of behaviouristic influence by bad or irresponsible consumption of alcohol. Organisations like NTHA- National Tourism and Hospitality Association, located in Makhosini House, Meadowlands were founded back in 1999 as a result of the threat of closure to their businesses. This was impacted by the spread of criminal behaviour within the community due to a growing number of elements influenced by bad bingeing behaviour.

During a community meeting with the Meadowlands SAPS it was reported that traders, whom amongst them was the current President of NTHA, Ms Fanny Mokoena organised themselves and their patrons and took resolutions that eventually saw the proposal to close their outlets being subsequently suspended. The statistics of the menacing criminal behaviour allegedly dropped. Wouldn’t that opportunity currently be repeated by stakeholders in the tourism and hospitality industry, and furthermore manufacturers, traders, within the community and their patrons to cultivate attitudes of alcohol consumption that do not land drinkers in hospital, consequently risking their lives as well putting in jeopardy the livelihoods of traders and employees in the liquor industry during this Covid-19 Pandemic?

Dumi Mkhabela Soweto Sunrise News