Botswana is in top 10 in terms of alcohol consumption rate in Africa, according to World Health Organization (WHO) Report. The report dubbed Global status report on Alcohol and health 2014 released lately states that Botswana consumes approximately 8.4 liters per capita which is still high.
The report contains country profiles for WHO Member States and provides a global overview of alcohol consumption in relation to public health as well as information on the consumption of alcohol in populations; the health consequences of alcohol consumption; and policy responses at national level. It is understood that an intervention by former President Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama through the alcohol levy that raked 2.2 billion pula only decreased the consumption by a paltry 0.2 liters during his era.
According to the report Botswana alcohol consumption, as recorded and unrecorded, and for both sexes, was one of the highest in both the region, Africa and the world. The report posits that, while Botswana consumes 8.4 liters per capita, other countries in the South African Development Corporation (SADC) region like Madagascar are at 1.8 liters per capita; while Malawi sits at 2.5 and 2.3 liters for Mozambique.
In addition Swaziland consumes 5.7 liters per capita with Zimbabwe drinking 5.7 and Zambia 4.0 liters including Tanzania at 7.7 liters per capita. Report indicates that it is only South Africa and Tanzania, in the region, which are ahead of Botswana at 11.0 liters and 10.8 liters per capita, respectively. WHO report states that the total consumption in Botswana account to 2.2 Liters of pure alcohol and the average daily intake is 43.8 grams of pure alcohol in Botswana.
It further states that a projection of alcohol consumption for Botswana in 2020 is expected to be 7.4% and 7.3% in 2025. The report indicates that the alcohol attributes to 3.9% deaths from all causes in Botswana. In terms of the report, the total population for Botswana is 1 969 000 who are aged 15 years and older; with 66% population in urban areas; and 61% income group upper middle income, according to the World Bank.
In the world sphere, Botswana still has the highest alcohol consumption per capita sitting at position 58. The top 10 countries by alcohol consumption per capita in the world are: Russia, Romania, Ukraine, Andorra, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Belarus, Moldova, and Lithuania.
The report acknowledged some of Botswana’s interventions like having in place on an excise tax on beer, wine and spirits (alcohol levy); and national legal minimum age for off-premise sales of alcoholic beverages (beer, wine, spirits). It also took into note a national legal minimum age for 18 years on-premise sales of alcoholic beverages; restrictions for on/off-premise sales of alcoholic beverages: hours, days/places, density National maximum legal blood alcohol concentration when driving a vehicle (general/young/professional).
Meanwhile, the then Assistant Minister of Health, Dr Alfred Madigele has previously told Parliament in the evaluation of the levy indicated that the per capita alcohol consumption in Botswana was higher than the regional average of 6.2 litres, which was reported by the World Health Organisation in 2011. Madigele stated then that: “my ministry’s objective is to see the per capita consumption of alcohol in Botswana drop well below this regional average.”
Mogoditshane MP, Sedirwa Kgoroba had asked the minister to give statistical data indicating that the introductions of alcohol levy decreased consumption of alcohol. Also, he wanted him to state the reason behind the latest increase in alcohol consumption.
Report indicate 3.3 million deaths in the world linked to alcohol
According to the report, 3.3 million deaths in the world recorded in 2012 were due to harmful use of alcohol. It stated: “alcohol consumption can not only lead to dependence but also increases people’s risk of developing more than 200 diseases including liver cirrhosis and some cancers. In addition, the report says that harmful drinking can lead to violence and injuries.” The report also finds that harmful use of alcohol makes people more susceptible to infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and pneumonia.
The report also alludes to the fact that a higher percentage of deaths among men than women are from alcohol-related causes; in particular 7.6% of men’s deaths and 4% of women’s deaths; though there is evidence that women may be more vulnerable to some alcohol-related health conditions compared to men. In addition, the report notes that there is concern over the steady increase in alcohol use among women.
Report also states that globally, Europe is the region with the highest consumption of alcohol per capita, with some of its countries having particularly high consumption rates. The alcohol consumption in 2010 was equal to 6.2 litres of pure alcohol consumed per person aged 15 years or older, which translates into 13.5 grams of pure alcohol per day throughout the world.
In addition 61.7% of the population aged 15 years or older (15+) had not drunk alcohol in the past 12 months. In all WHO regions, females are more often lifetime abstainers than males, the reports states that adding that there is a considerable variation in prevalence of abstention across WHO regions.
“Worldwide about 16.0% of drinkers aged 15 years or older engage in heavy episodic drinking. In general, the greater the economic wealth of a country, the more alcohol is consumed and the smaller the number of abstainers. As a rule, high-income countries have the highest alcohol per capita consumption (APC) and the highest prevalence of heavy episodic drinking among drinkers,” report further points out.
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.
JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.
This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.
“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.
This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.
“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.
UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.
In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.
This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.
Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”
Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”
UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.
Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.
“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.
The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.