Botswana’s largest alcohol producer, Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL), is challenging the government’s latest ban on alcohol sales, arguing that at least 50,000 direct jobs and 200,000 livelihoods in the alcohol value chain are threatened.
According to court papers dated 6 July, KBL has cited President Masisi alongside the Attorney General (AG) and the Director of Health Services in a case that is expected to be heard before Justice Tshepo Motswagole.
In the papers, KBL seeks the court to declare “unlawful and invalid as well as to review and set aside Government notice No.362 of 2021 issued in terms of the emergency powers act (CAP 22:04) as read with the emergency powers (Covid-19) regulations, 2020 and published by the Director of Health Services.”
KBL further asks the court to, in the meantime pending the final determination of the relief sought, to suspend the operation of the Government notice which has effectively suspended the sale of alcohol.
KBL was last year forced to put workers on unpaid leave, cut salaries across the board and also stop payments to suppliers as a result of the alcohol bans.
The brewer is 49.9% owned by Sechaba Holdings Limited, which in turn is about 19% owned by the Botswana Development Corporation, government’s investment agency aimed at economic diversification. The Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund, the main retirement fund for civil servants, owns about 25% equity in Sechaba.
The government through the Attorney General had not filed their responding affidavit by the time of going to press. Both the President and the Director of Health Services have been cited. KBL is represented by Minchin & Kelly law firm.