Shisanyama manager says people's livelihoods are being shattered by alcohol ban

Eateries have raised concern that a ban of alcohol sales was negatively impacting their businesses.
Eateries have raised concern that a ban of alcohol sales was negatively impacting their businesses.
Image: iStock / Izusek

Waitresses, restaurant managers and bartenders joined the Million Seats in the Street protest in Ebony Park on Wednesday to highlight the “devastating impact to the food and hospitality sector” as a result of job losses brought by the lockdown regulations.

The protest was among many protests staged on Wednesday by the Restaurant Association of South Africa (Rasa) and it took place at the famous Busy Corner Imbizo Shisanyama.

After police warned  restaurants and coffee shops against participating in a mass protest blocking the roads,  peaceful protests that were meant to make a statement took place in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Waiters carried placards written “150 Jobs+ 600 Mouths to Feed”, “Was it Wrong to Choose Hospitality#JobsSaveLives”, “We Too Have Bills to Pay!” and “All Jobs Are Essential". In Cape Town, restaurant owners and bartenders stood on the street between 12 and 2pm with their placards that read “Restaurant Employees Matter, "Restaurant Lives Matter, "Order Local to Support Local”.

In the midday heat in Ebony Park, energetic employees chanted songs Asphelelanga kushoda iwine, asphelelanga kushoda ibeer  (we are not complete, wine and beer is missing) in our food.

According to Imbizo Shisanyama operational manager Connie Maseko, the popular eatery and drinking hole has been hit hard due to the ban of liquor sales.

The establishment has between 150 to 200 people that include waiters, bartenders, security and car guards who fall under its employment.

One of the waiters, Precious Modiba, who lives in Ebony Park, said the ban of alcohol sales has badly affected her because the number of patrons has dropped. As a waiter, Modiba makes money through tips and targets set by the restaurant.  She told Sowetan that on a very good week, she would normally rake in about R2,000 which she uses to pay rent and take care of her family.

“Since the lockdown and alcohol ban, we spend a lot of time at home because we come in shifts. We don’t have customers and that means we are not making enough money. I struggle to make money for rent and food.”

 

Maseko added: “We are trying to sell take-aways but honestly it is not enough. People enjoy buying liquor when they meet. The number of people coming has dropped. It is difficult to have all the staff working, especially waiters.”

 

Founder of Imbizo Shisanyama Rita Zwane said the alcohol ban and lockdown regulations have brought a devastating impact to the food and hospitality sector.

Addressing the waiters and bartenders, she said: “Like everyone I know, all of you have children going to school and needed to pay for them. I know you have bills to pay. In the past four months some managers have been without a salary but they have told me that they will soldier on until the situation improves. 

While the government is focusing on the bottom of the value chain by banning liquor and alcohol around this time, people’s homes and cars are being repossessed and their hopes are being shattered.” 

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