A few weeks ago, Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL) announced should the ban on alcohol sale not be lifted by end of January, they would have no choice but to suspend operations.
As one of the industry’s largest employers, KBL put out a press release dated January 20, 2021, stating in part: “As a result of the Government of Botswana’s ban of alcohol sales with effect from 4th January 2021, Kgalagadi Breweries Limited has made a very difficult decision to completely suspend its operations for 25th January 2021.
This follows an initial phased suspension of certain KBL operations carried out in the weeks following the announcement of the ban from 25th January 2021, only a minimal number of critical roles will continue to be staffed, and all the other operational activity will stop.
As per the Government Gazette, the alchol ban is expected to end January 2021 on 31st January 2021; however, should the ban be extended past this date, suspension of operations will continue.”
Apart from KBL employees, other people are employed by bars, bottle stores, and other entities that trade in liquor. There is also the issue of bar owners, who survive solely on the proceeds from their businesses.
Some businesses in the Tourism Industry have also been complaining of dwindling revenue, as the sale of alcohol in their enties is one of the major players in the success of their businesses. Understandably, the government is fighting a monster in the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which continues to cause havoc across the globe.
The deadly virus has already robbed several families of their breadwinners, and, understandably, the government should do whatever it takes to protect its citizens, including by making decisions that may not be popular with certain segments of the society.
We applaud the government for its efforts so far because while we do not know what will happen in the future, Botswana still remains one of the few countries that record fewer infections and maintains a lower death toll.
While infections increased at an alarming rate after the festive season with the death toll also going up, Botswana still fairs well in comparison to other countries’ infection and death rates.
Reasons advanced for banning the sale of alcohol, while not completely clear, are to some level understood. While it is common knowledge that excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages has negative implications on one’s health, it is also common knowledge that controlling drunkards can pose quite a challenge.
Still, there is the burning issue of other citizens who are currently sitting at home with nothing to feed their families.
It begs the question, what is the government saying about the predicament such folks find themselves in? This issue, together with that of performing artist, needs to be looked into, and if government is not ready to lift the ban on the sale of alcohol, then perhaps it should come up with a plan to assist.
The Botswana Alcohol Industry Association (BAIA) has been pleading with the government to at least lift the ban, and put stricter regulations in place.