Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Botswana, thin wallets and the 2010 World Cup

The fat lady has sung and it is done; 2010 is here and we now feel the pinch.
Hardly five months into the year, suddenly it’s not as sweet as we imagined it would be, is it?

The sugar coated dream we all made 2010 out to be has turned out rather bitter for most of us.
Our wallets are emaciated because of the newly increased VAT and alcohol levy.
And it does not stop there.

Since we started having these huge flowery 2010 expectations, we never stopped hoping but now, almost at the midway line through the year, reality is beginning to slowly sink in and the realization that 2010 could actually end up worse that 2009 is becoming a reality.

Well it might just be that those who are really enjoying the dawn of this very much anticipated year are those who are well off, financially, and as for the middle or low income lot, the year is a rough one.

Earlier this month, we learnt through media reports that Botswana will face serious food shortages before, during and immediately after during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Those in power denied it but we know better. And we also all know beforehand that we will face even stringent power outages then.

Of course, there will be opportunities for our neighbours in South Africa, while we will be forced to mostly bite the bitter end of the stick.
Talk about being made doormats!

Random interviews had me really convinced that a lot of Batswana who intend to enjoy the soccer frenzy from their living rooms are well prepared for the power outages they have no choice but anticipate.

One soccer fan said she and her partner ‘invested’ in a generator! She revealed that it was much to pay but they “didn’t want to miss out on the action”.

Another soccer fan said that he was still paying for a small generator that he is buying on lay-bye. He was adamant he will finish paying for it by the time the first whistle is blown for the start of the games.

Both interviewees concurred that it was a worthy investment, especially if load shedding persists beyond the World Cup.

But wont fuel prices also go up? Food for thought.
More regret concerns the rate at which most things, especially food prices have sky-rocketed, only two months before the World Cup.
An elderly man at a mall compared the times to when he was a younger man.

“Earning a two-digit figure was a big thing then, one could afford so many things and even send money home, but now it is different, 3 digits is peanuts, you can’t live on it,” he lamented.
According to the respondent, the bar has been set too high for those who earn less, while a student at the University of Botswana who wanted to be identified only as Keone, said that since the country will experience food shortages during the World Cup, she was expecting food prices to be even higher.

“Food prices are likely to go even higher then and I’m only waiting for the worst,” she said.
Many also believe that the government should have taken a long shot at taking advantage of the opportunities that the World Cup has brought to the region.

Presenters at a local radio station did not fall short when airing their disappointment over the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture who sneered at a golden opportunity by failing to attract a single World Cup nation to camp in Botswana.

A lot of us were expecting business to boom around this time.
Now all we say is that we hope God is as generous to us in many other ways like he has always been. We failed to do it ourselves and can only trust in Him and hope against hope that all will go well for us.

The tourism industry in Botswana is so lucrative that we should have by now seen a bit of a flurry, but except for the Gaborone Sun (through its consortium of hotels) no other hotels or lodges have signed anything to the effect that they shall benefit from the World Cup tournament.
Walking around Gaborone, you would never believe the World Cup tournament will be kicking off in about two months less than 400km away.

There is none of that festive mood and soccer paraphernalia so much evident in other countries further away from South Africa than we are.
Batswana just don’t want to have fun.

How many Batswana have bought World Cup tickets and booked hotel accommodation for the tournament?
Maybe this time we are only expected to learn so that we excel the next time the World Cup comes to Africa again.
Fat chance!

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The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.