To Continue Or Not To Continue In Court? That Is The Kbl Question

Permanent employees are back at work at KBL after the ban on alcohol was lifted on Monday this week but losses incurred will have repercussions on the contracts of temporary employees. Staff Writer TLOTLO KEBINAKGABO reports

The country’s largest producer of clear beer, Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL), is undecided as to whether to proceed with its court case challenging President Mokgweetsi Masisi for imposing a ban on alcohol towards the end June or to drop the matter, The Botswana Gazette has established.

However, following the lifting of the ban on 7 August, all of the company’s permanent employees have returned to work after being furloughed when KBL was not trading due to the ban.

The company has filed an appeal application at the Court of Appeal after losing its application on urgency at the High Court in which it challenged President Masisi’s latest ban on alcohol that was imposed on 28 June 2021.

The President lifted the ban independently on 7 August 2021.

“KBL welcomes the lifting of the alcohol ban and hopes to, by some means, recover from the cumulative losses of four months of no trade in 2021,” the company’s Head of Corporate Affairs, Masegonyana Madisa, told this publication in an interview.

“Regarding the court case, since the announcement to lift the ban was made on Friday evening, the company is still consulting with its team of lawyers and will consider its options.”

Madisa confirmed to The Botswana Gazette that all of their permanent employees have returned to work, in office or working from home. “Due to financial constraints, however, not all fixed-term employees’ contracts (temporary employees) will be renewed,” he said. “We are cognizant of the economic struggles many have endured due to COVID-19 and the bans, and we hope that we may, some day soon, be able to positively contribute to employment in the country.”

Asked about retrenching as an option for recovering losses caused by the ban, Madisa answered: “Currently we are under the State of Emergency (SOE) which does not allow KBL to retrench. However, with the announcement that the SOE will not be extended, as with every business, any major developments that hinder business growth, eroding shareholder value and affecting the sustainability of the business, may force the company to restructure, which may or may not include retrenchments.”

Price increases

According to Madisa, KBL was forced to increase prices to cater for inflation and other cost increases mainly in raw materials. He said the price increase is only on four brands, namely Castle Lite 660ml, Carling Black Label 750ml, Flying Fish Lemon 660 ml and Redd’s Vodka Lemon 600ml.