- Botswana's president, Ian Khama, is likely to abandon his quest to introduce a controversial 70 percent levy on alcohol fearing a possible backlash ahead of next year's general elections.
President Khama shocked the nation about three months ago when he announced at a Kgotla meeting that government would be instituting a 70 percent alcohol levy.
A source close to president Khama have reportedly convinced him to abandon his crusade against alcohol, but judging from his comments yesterday at the 10th National Business Council in Francistown the proposal is unlikely to succeed.
"Even if a levy is put it will not be as large as that announced by the president," he said further stating that from discussions with the President there is a room for flexibility.
Government sources say while initially government and in particular, president Ian Khama, was unwilling to settle for a compromise, there is now a general understanding that a National Alcohol Policy would be the best for the country.
Botswana's Sunday Standard quoted Mr Khama saying: "I should at this point also commend the private sector for its recent interest in the challenge posed by alcohol abuse. Your concern is however somewhat belated but nonetheless welcome."
According to president Khama, he has received proposals to address alcohol abuse in Botswana saying alcohol abuse poses a multi faceted challenge to Botswana with multiple negative effects that can undermine the country's efforts to become more prosperous.
Government is expected to announce its final decision on the matter at the end of September, most probably as part of the President's Independence message to the nation.
Sunday Standard confirmed that since government announced the coming of the 70 percent alcohol levy, various influential personalities including some structures of the ruling party have been quietly urging the President to reconsider his position.
Kgalagadi Breweries, a subsidiary of SABMiller, and by far the country's largest industry player responded by submitting a technical report with office of the president warning that if government continued with the levy they would have no choice but to close down their plant in Gaborone.
President Khama's desire to increase levy on alcohol is said to have been mainly prompted by widespread alcohol abuse in his country. Botswana is ranked one of the highest in the region and ranks in the top 100 in the world alcohol consumption.
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