Tariffs, Tariffs And More Tariffs

When government asks you to dig deep then you know that the faecal irritant has surely hit that rotor on the ceiling. These are tough times. Very tough times. Not even Chuck Norris with his much-vaunted legendary toughness can navigate these times so he’s best left to the big screen fighting dinosaurs and bombing buildings.

Lately there has been a spike in all sorts of tariffs. Water tariffs have gone up. The Covid messages have laid on thick the advantages of proper hygiene. Just as we were getting in stride to help thwart the potency of Covid by frequently washing our hands, boom, water tariffs get hiked. So at this point in time there’s a choice between hygiene and your budget. Now everyone knows this is a no-brainer. Us, average folks will gladly sacrifice hygiene in order to have money in our pockets. So, we will have lots of loaded but dirty citizens - something Dr Masupu will not be happy with.

Electricity tariffs have gone up. This means that you cannot use your electric cooker to cook hooves, samp, tripe and all those delicacies that take a few days.

Back in the day when TV was slowly creeping into living rooms in the 80s, not many households had electricity so it was powered by either a generator or a car battery. The latter became a cause of huge family rifts because after the battery’s night shift it would sometimes be completely discharged and couldn’t start the car.  I have always wondered how a black and white TV with only three channels and no remote control unit could consume that much electricity. So usually families would identify programmes to watch and switch on the TV at precisely that point.  So you could actually ration power into your house. It is unlike nowadays where there’s a switchman who can decide to switch off a whole section of the city merely because their ex stays in that area.

Not to be outdone, Pay TV has done its usual. In America they give hurricanes names. If ever they name one Pay TV you better evacuate fast. Pay TV is like Ivy League in price increases. Every year they increase charges. Ever year people complain about the increases and they complain that Keeping Up With The Kardashians is a trashy programme that gets repeated 63 times a day. Every year the people shut up after a week.

The following year this cycle is repeated. The people threaten to subscribe in South Africa, but the few who usually cross over to Msanzi get distracted by the cheap liquor that side and spend that subscription money on booze. They return to join the sad masses and with specially-crafted, alcohol-infused insults to hurl at Pay TV. Pay TV just ignores them and waits for the following year to do their thing.

I’m sure Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) was observing and staring from a distance and salivating. BURS has a stare similar to that of that quiet guy who sits at the end of the bar, you know, the one that kills people for a living. And when everyone else had done their share of tariff increase up stepped the big man and threw in two percent for good measure on Value Added Tax.

At this point we wish our lives had background music – just like in movies - so we could understand what the hell is going on. Government is asking the citizenry and civil service to do more with less. Our less is failing to do the bare minimum.

This pull yourself up by your bootstraps is a bridge too far to cross for the populace. I mean think about it. We’ve had to rationalise our grocery list. We have now moved inside the chicken, goat and cow as offals make 90% of our relish. Real meat which we used to take for granted is now a rumour on our plate. On average it makes an appearance on the dinner plate once in two weeks – just like the appearance of a councillor at your village after voting him in.

So when the powers that be start speaking like Shakespeare and encourage us to pull ourselves by our bootstraps they must know that most of us do not have boots. The few that have boots do not have bootstraps. That is where we are today. 

(For comments, feedback and insults email [email protected])

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