- Says he is empowered by the EPA to impose the ban on alcohol
- Argues KBL has failed to advance substantial reasons
President Mokgweetsi Masisi has once again asserted his authority with regards to his decision to impose a ban on the sale of alcohol.
The president openly said KBL has no place in speaking for societal rights after the brewer filed before court arguing that the ban on alcohol infringes on the rights of citizens by denying them sources of income, decent lives and right of choice to drink amongst a few. Masisi boldly stated in response that KBL has no authority to be advocating for the society in the manner it seeks to and it failed to justify that authority.
Rather Masisi argues that KBL seeks only to protect commercial interest with little regard to the prevailing circumstances. “This is not assisted by the fact that KBL is not a person as envisaged by section 18 of the constitution and therefore may not move an application under that provision,” Masisi responded.
This is the matter in which beer brewing firm, Kgalagadi Breweries Limited ( KBL) is challenging the alcohol ban.
Responding to KBL papers filed before the Court of Appeal where they want the matter to be heard on an expedited basis, President Masisi reminded KBL that he acted within the confines of the Constitution and the Emergency Powers Act (EPA).
The President averred that the appeal is irregular because the applicant did not seek leave to appeal before instituting current proceedings.
Masisi said the 2nd and 3rd applicants, namely Lethogile Mafoko and Koga Boitshwarelo, have no locus standi (right to bring action before court) as they were not parties of the initial proceedings at the Gaborone High Court.
The two had deposed affidavits in support of KBL’s case against President Masisi.
In his papers filed before court this week, Masisi said the affidavit deposed by one Neo Legwaila dated 16 August seeking to explain the delay in filing these proceedings ought to be struck off with costs.
According to the President, Legawila did not seek leave from the court and followed an unknown procedure.
These are some of the points in limine (law) that the respondents have raised and will seek to argue when the matter is heard.
MASISI SETS THE RECORD STRAIGHT
President Masisi went on to remind Botswana’s sole beer producer, KBL, that Botswana is a sovereign state run in accordance with a constitution.
“Parliament passed the Emergency Powers Act (EPA) to enable a president to deal with public emergencies that may befall the nation of Botswana from time to time,” said the President. “The National Assembly passed and approved that there was a State of Public Emergency, which I then declared on 2nd April 2020 on account of a COVID-19 break out which engulfed the whole world, including Botswana.”
He added that he is authorised by the EPA to devise regulations to stem the tide of COVID-19.
ACCUSES KBL OF BEING COMMERCIALLY-DRIVEN
Defending his decision to impose the alcohol ban, President Masisi has criticized the brewer for being commercially-driven.
“The matter of public interest is a deadly virus that continues to decimate the population and all measures, including a ban on the sale of alcohol, are geared towards reducing the risk of spread of the virus,” he said.
He added that KBL’s commercial interest is not of public interest.
“The commercial interest of the first applicant is not a matter of public interest such that it can trump over public health concerns,” he argued. “I imposed the ban on the sale of alcohol as one of the interventions designed to preserve public health, given the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, which is threatening to decimate the population of Botswana.”
In arriving at the decision, the President noted that he was furnished with information by both the Task Force and the Director of Health Services that showed that it was necessary to impose the ban. “The decision to impose or lift the ban on the sale of alcohol is taken on the basis of evidence available to me at any time in point,” he said.
Although the President has conceded that, all sectors of the economy have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, he holds that KBL has no right to speak on behalf of those that it purports to be representing.