Some residents of Gaborone are disgruntled at being overlooked or excluded from the social food basket rollout. The food basket is meant to assist those in need, particularly those financially affected by the COVID-19 extreme social distancing regulations.
Government has indicated that the nationwide drive is targeted at the most disadvantaged community members who are without an income and lack basic necessities especially food. A statement from government this week indicated that 3000 households had been identified in Gaborone to receive the food relief baskets. The city has a population of over 200, 000.
Some members of the public have said that there was no class categorisation in the surveillance. Residents of the so-called prime and suburban areas of Block 5, Block 8, Block 9, Block 10 and Phase 2, among others, took to social media to complain that they had not received any visit from social workers.
A disgruntled resident of Block 8, Thomo Moepi said the assumption was that people who live in prime areas are not in need. “They probably went to township areas only. What they fail to understand is that living in semi-urban prime areas does not mean that one is well-off. Many of us are struggling, living from hand to mouth as hustlers. I think government does not understand what the life of a hustler entails. On other days I can fend for myself because I can do this and that to make money but not now in lockdown,” he said.
Moepi runs a car wash and shoe cleaning business.
Many Batswana make a living through the urban informal sector through selling, skill exchange, trade and ‘piece jobs’, on a service or product or payment method, where they make money on a daily basis. With limited movement, many economic opportunities and prospects are depleted. There is no income for large families and beneficiaries.
Many breadwinners and guardians are struggling. Electricity tariffs were hiked by 20 percent prior to the lockdown and any discerning consumer could have noticed the price hikes on several items in shops. All this has increased costs for many.
Tshegofatso Bathai, a hairdresser renting out a shared backhouse, said on most days she can make more than P300 in a day but with social distancing restrictions she could barely scrap a mere P100 and had been forced to dip into her meagre savings to get by and send money home to her ailing parents and unemployed siblings because she is a breadwinner.
She said she had received one or two customers and was able to buy relish, but it was risky. “They are scared of breaking social distancing rules. Some customers are not doing their hair because they are not going anywhere. “Staying home is also expensive, especially when you have little ones. Children want to eat. When they are hungry, they just want food – they don’t care that it is lockdown.”