Monday, January 24, 2022

KBL’s P10 million initiative to save Chibuku traders hits dead-end

A Kgalagadi Brewery Limited (KBL) initiative to save traditional beer traders who were barred from selling opaque beer (Chibuku) from their homesteads has hit a snag on the back of lack of land in which to build depots.

After government instituted a raft of measures aimed at controlling alcohol use including the prohibition of selling of traditional beer in homesteads, KBL, the brewing giant which brews opaque beer, availed a P10 million budget to assist those affected by the imposed restrictions.

Not much success has to date been made. The obstacle to the project implementation is lack of suitable land in which to build operating outlets.

In an interview with Sunday Standard, KBL spokesperson Mokoro Ketsitlile said the Opaque Division’s Outlet Development fund is unable to accomplish its intended goal, which is the construction of depots in accordance with the new regulations.

Mokoro said although they are doing their best to assist the traders, the fund has not been utilised as much as the company expected because the majority of the plots that were earmarked for Chibuku depots did not qualify because they did not meet the requirements of Traditional Beer Regulations.

“The challenges facing the opaque business in this regard mostly relate to the unavailability of suitable land for Chibuku depots. This continues to pose huge challenges for the business and for Chibuku retailers and is mainly due to the requirements of the Traditional Beer Regulations which stipulate that Chibuku Depots must be at least 500 meters from such facilities as schools, churches and main roads. However we are doing our best to assist them,” he said.

Minister of Trade Industry, Dorcus Makgato-Malesu told Sunday Standard government is doing all it can to assist by continuously engaging with KBL and other stakeholders to see how they can assist the traditional beer traders.. She said that there is notable achievement although she could not quantify the progress at the time of going to press.

“We always engage each other as stakeholders to see how we can assist the traditional beer traders and there has been notable achievement,” she said.

However, Mokoro said that the requirements make it impossible for them to achieve their objective as it would mean that in most instances the depots will simply be inaccessible to consumers.

He said the combination of these challenges has hindered all efforts by their Outlet Development Plan and led it to fall behind schedule.

Mokoro further said that the traditional beer regulations have inevitably affected KBL overall opaque volumes and sales. “Under the current conditions, all the KBL opaque operations are currently not doing well. The recent closure of Palapye Brewery is one of the manifestations of this impact of performance decline,” Mokoro said.

On what strategies they have put in place to mitigate the challenges they are facing Mokoro said that various strategies have been implemented such as the amalgamation of the then Botswana Breweries (BBL) into a single operating entity with KBL.

He added that the closure of Palapye Brewery means that they had to relocate production to both Gaborone and Francistown and to maintain supply to the Palapye operational area from these two breweries.

“Unfortunately, the mothballing of Palapye also meant that we were forced to lay off some staff members. Out of a total of 64 staff complement at Palapye Brewery 43 have been re-deployed to other sites around the country, including our Clear Beer operations. Sadly 21 employees have had to lose their jobs,” he said.

However, Mokoro said that the Ikgalemele Alcohol abuse campaign they launched last year to mitigate alcohol abuse in the country continues to gather momentum. He said they are continuing to have road shows and are engaging with retailers and other relevant stakeholders such as the Botswana Police Service, Bye-law officers, Chiefs, customary authorities, and the youth through various platforms in conjunction with other sectors such as schools, social workers, NGO’s and youth responsibility platforms around the country.

“These interactions have been seen as highly instrumental in supporting retailers on responsible service practices “the Ikgalemele way”. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and will be invaluable in assisting KBL to develop forward looking strategies to target aspects of Ikgalemele to issues and irresponsible consumption trends at various parts of the country,” Mokoro said.

He said that judging from responses from their targeted stakeholders they expect a heightened level of accountability and responsibility from all stakeholders when it comes to responsible consumption.
Mokoro concluded that it is also important that campaigns such as Ikgalemele are geared towards attitude and behaviour change.

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