KBL takes gov’t to court over alcohol ban

Following the recent alcohol sales ban by the government and after careful consideration of circumstances, Kgalagadi Breweries (Pty) Ltd (KBL) said it has filed an urgent application in the High Court of Botswana on 6th July 2021 asking the court to set aside the decision by the Government of the Republic of Botswana to impose an indefinite wholesale ban on the sale of alcohol in the country.

The company stated that why it have preferred a different approach, this action has become necessary as a result of the devastating cumulative effect the alcohol bans have had on KBL, the alcohol industry and its extensive value chain. 

Confirming the court action, KBL Corporate Affairs Head, Masegonyana Madisa, warned that the latest ban on alcohol sales would have dire consequences not only on its operations but on the entire alcohol value chain in Botswana. It would also exacerbate the illicit alcohol trade and criminality in the country and the consumption of unregulated and unsafe products, leading to financial contributions by way of taxation being diverted away from the fiscus.

Masegonyana Madisa

Madisa confirmed that in its application dated 6 July 2021, KBL is asking the High Court to review the President’s decision to impose the ban by setting it aside, while also seeking orders declaring that the imposition of a complete ban on the sale of alcohol be deemed unlawful and improper. The company believes that the Government’s wholesale alcohol ban is improper and not based on clear and objective evidence demonstrating a causal connection between the wholesale ban on alcohol and the reduction of positive Covid-19 cases.

Madisa disclosed that the alcohol value chain directly and indirectly employs approximately 50,000 people and supports approximately 200,000 livelihoods, stressing that the latest alcohol ban further endangers the lives of Batswana.

He added that while KBL continues to support reasonable and proportionate emergency safety measures that respect the rule of law, the brewer views the latest ban as unlawful as it will devastate livelihoods throughout Botswana, from retailers, to transporters, distributors, and KBL itself, as Botswana’s leading brewer and distributor of beer, who had been hard hit by the numerous bans effected since 2020.

 “The latest ban compounds the matter as KBL has, once again, ceased trade, yet its fixed costs and obligations to employees and suppliers, also remain unchanged,” Madisa said.

KBL had placed most of its employees on unpaid leave during the previous ban and might be forced to do this again should the latest ban persist for an extended period. Madisa explains, “Because they cannot work, they cannot earn a living. This threatens their livelihoods and indeed, violates a myriad of their constitutional rights,” including the rights to dignity and privacy.

“We acknowledge that there have been isolated incidents of gathering where there was consumption of alcohol by some, but the entire sector should not be disadvantaged for the irresponsible behaviour of a few individuals. The company calls on the police and other authorities to step up their respective measures to ensure compliance and the rule of law in all incidents of abusive and unlawful consumption.”

“KBL wholeheartedly agrees that the health and safety of the population must remain Government’s overriding priority but believes this objective can be pursued through more proportionate measures that allow the industry and its extensive value chain to continue to trade in a restricted manner, and will continue to support all reasonable measures, as demonstrated through past initiatives.”