Monday, September 21, 2020

KBL’s donation to political parties should ignite the debate for state funding

It is very easy to sympathise with Kgalagadi Breweries.
While their competitors elsewhere are busy making money and growing shareholder value, KBL executives have been forced to contend with the ever shifting mood swings of our politicians.

For over a year now, this flagship (if it still is) has been on the defensive – parrying and ducking blows from the pouncing politicians.

No sooner did the Group find itself grappling with a 30% levy than they tried going to court before backtracking on account of circumstances entirely beyond their control.

During that same period the company has seen its operating profits shrink by 30%.

Cornered and clearly helpless, the group has had to revise their entire strategy, not least their dealings with politicians.

Theirs is a life and death struggle.
The beer selling group is an endangered species.

It’s no accident that in everything they do, survival is high up in their minds.

They have figured that perhaps the best way out is to mollycoddle the country’s political masters.

They are now doling out cash to politicians; officially and in very nice public relations parlance, to strengthen the country’s democracy.
Don’t be deceived by beautiful language employed.

The largest share of the bounty will go to the political party that is controlled by the same people who cobbled up the craziest policies in as far as undermining KBL’s commercial strategy.

It’s a contradiction in terms.
Since the announcement that KBL was giving out money to politicians, the company has received all sorts of positive appraisals, including, surprise, and surprise from the BDP.
The company’s Managing Director, Hloni Matsela, must be shell-shocked at the amount of goodwill money can buy in a week’s time.

But then as the American artist R. Kelly would have it, “Money Makes the World go Round.”

That is what immediately came to my mind when I heard KBL was publicly giving out P2 million to Botswana’s political parties.
Like cash, Public Relations can be an amazing weapon.

What then when the two are combined! That is what is at play here.
It’s easy to understand why the group has had to come up with all this fancy footwork.

Like an abused spouse, KBL seems to think the solution lies in appeasing and placating the abusive partner.
Of course, that can work, but only for a short while.
Very soon the same problem will resurface.

That said, regardless of their true intentions all credit must go to KBL.
While there is every whiff of insincerity with gusto with which political parties have jumped to receive the spoils from KBL, we should thank the company for kick-starting what is by far a very important national debate ÔÇô state funding of political parties.

Otherwise the issue would never have come up before the October General elections.

The issue is all the more urgent because even the BDP’s traditional donors have lately not been too eager to come to the party, thanks to the difficulties the economy is going through.

The BDP used to be awash with money.
Those days are gone. Perhaps for good!
With secret donors no longer coming along, perhaps for the first time in decades, it is not just the opposition that is desperately in need of cash.
It is our hope that this time around, government, oh no, the ruling party will respond much more positively to suggestions of state funding.

By using the share of the popular vote from the previous elections a more equitable and easy to administer formula has been set by KBL.
Perhaps the 30% alcohol levy was not such a bad idea after all.
Talk of a blessing in disguise!

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Sunday Standard September 20 – 26

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 20 - 26, 2020.