KBL is the country’s largest brewer employing approximately 50,000 people and supporting approximately 200,000 livelihoods through the value chain. KBL stresses that the latest alcohol ban, implemented through the powers of President Mokgweetsi Masisi, endangers the lives of Batswana. KBL says it continues to support reasonable and proportionate emergency safety measures that respect the rule of law but views the latest ban as unlawful as it will devastate livelihoods throughout Botswana, from retailers, to transporters, distributors, and KBL itself, as Botswana’s leading brewer and distributor of beer, who had been hard hit by the numerous bans effected since 2020.
While a different approach would have been preferred, KBL says the action to rope in court has become necessary as a result of the devastating cumulative effect the alcohol bans have had on KBL, the alcohol industry and its extensive value chain.
KBL Corporate Affairs Head, Masegonyana Madisa, warned that the latest ban on alcohol sales would have dire consequences not only on its operations but on the entire alcohol value chain in Botswana. “It would also exacerbate the illicit alcohol trade and criminality in the country and the consumption of unregulated and unsafe products, leading to financial contributions by way of taxation being diverted away from the fiscus,” he says adding that they also seek orders declaring that the imposition of a complete ban on the sale of alcohol be deemed unlawful and improper. The company believes that the Government’s wholesale alcohol ban is improper and not based on clear and objective evidence demonstrating a causal connection between the wholesale ban on alcohol and the reduction of positive COVID-19 cases.
“The latest ban compounds the matter as KBL has, once again, ceased trade, yet its fixed costs and obligations to employees and suppliers, also remain unchanged,” Madisa said.
KBL had placed most of its employees on unpaid leave during the previous ban and says it might be forced to do this again should the latest ban persist for an extended period. Madisa explains, “Because they cannot work, they cannot earn a living. This threatens their livelihoods and indeed, violates a myriad of their constitutional rights,” including the rights to dignity and privacy.