Monday 2020-09-28

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ESWATINI BEVERAGES LOSES 60% REVENUE, PRESSURE MOUNTS

By KWANELE DHLADHLA | 2020-09-17

The protracted ban on alcohol has cost Eswatini Beverages up to 60 per cent revenue.

Head of Legal and Corporate Affairs Mphumelelo Makhubu disclosed that their revenue has suffered a huge effect resultant from the lockdown.

“About 60 per cent of revenue that could have been made to date has been lost,” briefly said Makhubu before humbly asking not to disclose contents of their annual financial statements due to internally binding confidentiality clauses.        

On the other hand, Business Eswatini CEO E.Nathi Dlamini disclosed that Eswatini Beverages were under immense pressure from their group head office to come up with commercially sensible reasons why they should continue to invest in the country.

Dlamini said the reasoning from AB InBev was that they could still supply the country from any of their footprints in Africa, and they do not need to necessarily manufacture in Eswatini. “That’s exactly what we don’t want. As Business Eswatini, we feel relocating a processing plant to another country is not in the best interest of our country. Furthermore, we all know that should this relocation happen, there will be serious job losses. Everyone knows that this company offers high quality jobs from scientists to lab technicians. These are high quality jobs which we don’t want to ever lose,”  emphasised the CEO.

The CEO also revealed that he held what he described as frank discussions with his counterpart at Eswatini Beverages, Bridget Makhura, who took over as managing director of Eswatini Beverages six months ago. He said their concern was based on the fact that Eswatini Beverages is part of the Business Eswatini stable. Dlamini said they both decried the unrestricted flow of alcohol and spirits into the country yet the ban on alcohol was still in effect.

“Our borders are too porous and I don’t think we have the capacity to provide security to every nook and cranny of this country to ensure there’s no boot-legging taking place. Currently, booze is flowing into the country freely and these criminals are profiteering from the ban,” added Dlamini.

Protracted ban no longer adding value - private sector

Business Eswatini has wondered whether the continued alcohol ban remains a wise idea given the free flow of alcohol from illegal and unauthorised suppliers.

The private sector representative has also expressed great concern as to whether the massive losses in sin tax revenues which are desperately needed by the kingdom to pay the bills justify the ban given that alcohol flows freely into the country anyway. Business Eswatini CEO E.Nathi Dlamini said unless they were missing something; or there was something beyond their comprehension or commercial sensibilities; they no longer found the protracted ban adding any value.

“All it is doing is creating havoc; enabling the formation of bootleggers and criminals; robbing us of revenues as a country and permanently disrupting and also infiltrating our official liquor supply channels which will take years to fix. Even when the ban is lifted, the criminal gangs are unlikely to walk away,” Dlamini advised.   

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