Thursday, December 2, 2021

Masisi snubbed KBL overtures

Court records suggest that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has spurned Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL) proposals for consultations before imposing the controversial ban on alcohol consumption.

This emerges from a letter which forms part of an application in which KBL is challenging Masisi’s decision to impose a wholesale ban on the sale of alcohol in the country. 

According to the letter, KBL had sought audience with the President as part of efforts to attain a solution that would be the least harmful possible to all affected by the circumstances brought about by the pandemic and avoid the reintroduction of a wholesale ban on alcohol. 

The letter which was authored by the company’s lawyers, Deswai Group made a number of proposals as regards “a possible removal of the prohibition and the consideration of an alternative prohibition.” 

According to the letter, “An overarching and primarily representation is that KBL, directly and via the Botswana Alcohol Industry Association (BAIA) should be afforded an opportunity to consult and engage with (the Government) prior to the imposition or reimposition or continuation of any prohibitions or measures relating to the sale and consumption of alcohol.”  The letter suggests that KBL sought to table latest industry and medical research and statistics available and prevent any state of unreadiness and “any corresponding additional shock, surprise and economic disadvantage caused by a sudden ban.” 

Court records also show that “KBL received no substantive response to its letter.” KBL states in court papers that by failing or refusing to consult with the company and other stakeholders, the Government failed to allow itself an opportunity to consider relevant and “latest industry and medical research and statistics” that would inform a considered and measured response to COVID-19. 

KBL states in the letter that there are a few outlets that and people who do not follow Covid-19 protocols and it believes that these people collectively and individually should face significant consequences for their actions. The company says in the letter that the violations should be treated as isolated acts by reckless and thoughtless minority and should not be escalated to the industry-wide consequences of a full ban. KBL states that it is willing to work with Government and the various entities charged with enforcement of COVID-19 and alcohol regulations to ensure that measures are directed at these small number of non-compliant outlets. 

“Our submission is that this is preferable to measures directed at the full industry and the entire value chain, resulting in the wide-ranging economic and social consequences for over 200,000 Batswana,” reads the letter in part. 

KBL also states that it proposes among others various alternatives that would pay heed to the management of the pandemic. They include the resumption of trading hours under restricted hours that support distribution and retail operations, the implementation of a limited curfew when necessary, the firm treatment of any transgressors, including the revocation of licences and the institution of legal proceedings although KBL said it was committed to do as much as is within its power and capability to assist in this process, including the following where there is evidence provided where there is non-compliance with covid-19 protocols or licensing laws; 

Suspending direct sale to the outlet, removing support and investments to the outlet such as coolers, reinforce the importance to outlets of observing covid-19 protocols and following liquor licencing laws and for these outlets to be responsible for their patrons doing the same.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper