PALAPYE: Sefhare/Ramokgonami legislator and his civic leaders have raised their voices to deafening levels due starving residents that are yet to receive food despite being locked down due to the COVID-19.
The country has so far gone through a 35-day nationwide lockdown that resumed on April 2 aimed at reducing the spread of the virus.
The initial 28 days of the lockdown were extended by seven days and President Mokgweetsi Masisi recently said it would be followed by two weeks of sequential easing of the restrictions.
During the lockdown period the government embarked on assessing and providing food relief to Batswana countrywide. Different communities have benefited from the process while others are yet to get relief.
Due to the unfolding situation, community leaders in Sefhare/Ramokgonami are challenging the process that they complain it appears to have anomalies in their area, which left villagers in starvation, as they are yet to receive the rations.
The Mahalapye acting Senior Assistant Council Secretary Artwell Mulilo, who coordinates the team supplying the area, acknowledged the delays but to objected irregularities. He said the area was vast and the delay had been in assessing both residents and the suppliers, and consolidating the assessment report. “There is nothing wrong with the process. Assessment for the whole area is nearly complete and we are starting to give rations to those we have completed assessing starting from today,” he said in an interview on Wednesday.
Meanwhile the area legislator, Kesitegile Gobotswang raised concern about the delayed food aid to his area in Parliament on Wednesday. He complained the delay was unnecessary unless the government had shifted from the primary objective of the food relief basket and that had subjected the people of his area to hunger.
“The objective of the food basket was not to aid only the less privileged members of the community. But it was a directive of health authorities intended to help reduce movements of the people by keeping all non-essential members at home,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sefhare councillor Kenanao Balebetse complained that he was kept in the dark about the process of
He said his attempts to source information from responsible officers hit a snag, and he was failing to account to the residents’ day and night cries for food relief.
Balebetse also noted that in Sefhare there are enough general dealers and tuck-shops to adequately supply the village. He said the villagers rely on small-scale farming at the lands and had since left the crops to perish due to the requisite to conform to lockdown protocols. “I don’t know what causes delays, people have been assessed and the supply is long overdue. This unnecessary delay would sooner or later defeat the purpose of keeping people indoors.”
“It appears responsible officers are overlooking local businesses and that arouses suspicions that they are planning to benefit together with their friends, at the expense of the residents and the fight against the virus,” the councillor said.
Still on the matter, Ramokgonami area councillor Moilwa Moilwa shared similar sentiments about hunger in the area. He said the residents had complied with the protocols and stayed home, and unlike in other areas, they had not caused congestion at permit issuance areas.
Moilwa also said assessing the village was completed last week but residents were yet to receive food rations. Ramokgonami has Saverite Supermarket, four general dealers and a number of tuck shops.
“I hardly find sleep. People are calling day and night about food aid. The situation is dire and the longer it prevails we won’t be able to convince them to remain home,” he said.
He appreciated the situation could be caused by the process of engaging social workers but feels the government should have engaged the teachers in the village.
“If this situation continues, we should reconsider our processes because our people are left so desperate that they now threatening to go out and fend for themselves. This cannot be tolerated,” Moilwa said.