Sunday, September 27, 2020

Opposition parties in the lurch as KBL political funding dries up

Kalahari Breweries has adopted a policy against funding political parties, dealing a blow to opposition parties, which are struggling to raise money for their election campaigns.

In terms of the policy, although the company is committed to numerous social welfare programmes, it will no longer make donations to political parties.

Botswana’s political parties were in 2009 beneficiaries of P2 million, courtesy of KBL and its group partners. This was regarded as a landmark gesture that could, in turn, encourage other big companies to openly donate to political parties.

The money was distributed among the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), Botswana National Front (BNF) and the Botswana Congress Party (BCP).

The allocation was based on how each party faired during the previous elections.

KBL’s Public Relations Officer, Ketsitlile Mokoro, said that as part of SAB Miller, the company will not offer financial support to political parties.

“In line with our policy, we will not be making any donations to political parties,” said Mokoro.
While the announcement has some measure of empathy from the ruling BDP, it has irked opposition parties. “We have to accept their position. Nothing can be done about it,” said BDP treasurer, Satar Dada.

“It is regrettable that KBL is withdrawing what actually went a long way in developing our democracy…we were expecting more companies to donate what they have reaped from society,” said the BNF’s Moeti Mohwasa. “What this now means is that democracy is now left to individual politicians to fund it,” he added.

Mohwasa said this was undesirable because ultimately it stifles democracy at party and national level. Another opposition party, the BCP, says that it is unfortunate that KBL is backing off from a noble undertaking. The BCP publicity secretary, Taolo Lucas, said that opposition parties were, as a result of the previous donation, able to make an outreach to a lot of people.

“One cannot help but suspect that the good gesture was not equally appreciated by the ruling party. They seem to enjoy a situation where the opposition is cash strapped and they (BDP) are awash with money.”

Lucas said that, unlike the opposition, the BDP is enjoying a generous financial support from the private sector.

“One would want to suspect that the position that KBL is taking is the product of pressure,” he added.

The Telegraph can confirm that the ruling BDP was not amused by the donation as it was perceived to be giving opposition a shot in the arm.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.