Grim faces and empty trolleys on supermarket isles have become a sign of the times as rising food prices hit Batswana where it hurts most ÔÇô in their pockets.
A recent survey by Afrobarometer has revealed that although most Batswana rate government’s management of the economy highly, they are unhappy with the rising food prices, unemployment, poverty and the gap between the rich and the poor.
“In general, Batswana see economic problems as the most pressing, starting with unemployment at the top of the list,” stated the 2008 Afrobarometer Survey report which was released on Friday.
“The respondents perceive government as having failed to tackle job creation effectively, with 67 percent indicating that government has fared very badly or fairly badly.
“When the 2008 survey results are compared with those of 2003 and 2005, we see that there is very little change; levels of disapproval have remained stagnant at the same level since 2003. When other indicators of the economy, like keeping prices low in the shops are isolated, the results further reveal a worrisome scenario. In general, respondents are not happy with the issue of rising inflation, resulting in 87 percent of respondents in the 2008 survey expressing disappointment in the way government is managing the increase of commodity prices in shops. This is up sharply from 64 percent in both 2003 and 2005.
Forty percent of the respondents interviewed by Afrobarometer cited poverty as the second most pressing issue facing the country. “The importance of this issue to Batswana has risen sharply and quite substantially over the years, from just 17 percent in 1999, to more than twice that level by 2003, and the figure continues to grow,” states the Afrobarometer report.
In the 2008 survey, for the first time, problems in the farming/agricultural sector are among the top three of the most important problems facing the country. In contrast, for the first time since 1999 AIDS did not feature in the top five of the most pressing problems facing Botswana.