To people who live in places other than Gaborone, we are their envy. When they think of us they believe we are the ones who got out of the villages and small towns and made it in the big city. Then there are the few enlightened ones who know that we do struggle in more ways than the average Motswana who lives in places further away from Gaborone.
They know that we pay exaggerated rent prices amongst other things. Recently in a bus ride from my home village, I had a conversation with one modern young Motswana lady who had just been transferred to Maun. She acted like the luckiest person in the world. After listening to how much rent she paid for a spacious 2-bedroomed house, she seemed luckier than Bill Gates’ daughter and granddaughter.
And to add more she paid the standard P4 for a taxi ride to any place in Maun. I started to think about how much trouble I have to go through to get into a certain place just in Phase 2.
I have to wait for three people to fill up one particular taxi going to that particular part of Phase 2. But in Gaborone that’s understandable because everyone is looking to cut costs. But maybe we wouldn’t be fighting so hard to cut costs if servant’s quarters were not going for P1800 or even P2000. In Francistown a person can get a walled and electrified 4-bedroomed house for that amount. Maybe it’s time the government started to legislate the rent prices.
No one is amused by the way things are going. Speaking to one frustrated Motswana young lady who is currently struggling to find a job fit for her qualifications, she said that she cannot understand how a one-roomed house in Tlokweng can cost P700. She went on to say that one cannot save up for anything because you cannot put anything in it as it is too small. The young lady added that the P700 house is for bathing, sleeping and cooking. Something that’s usually referred to as Sama Phaletshe loosely translated as Mealie Meal pillow because the kitchen and bedroom are one.
“The rent prices are too high and to make matters worse our labour laws are not doing anything to help, but are making things worse. How are you supposed to survive with P1000?” Florah Mokgethisi asked. “What are you supposed to use to buy toiletries, pay for transport and take care of your children?” she went on to enquire.
Due to bad economic conditions, the houses they are forced to live in don’t even have hygienic toilets.
“I don’t know who is responsible for such things, but the council should do regular inspections to make sure that water system toilets are installed because the pit latrines are full and most of them don’t have doors. They use Zinc roofs for doors. There are usually many people in one yard.” She added that she has often spotted worms in these pit latrine toilets because they are just too full.
“After receiving money for rentals, these people spend nights drinking and they fight amongst themselves. Last month the people who live in the main house were drinking all night and they had a fight in the middle of the night. Someone hit his brother with a bottle.” Mokgethisi said.
To add salt to injury is the fact that they as tenants are not allowed to play the radio out loud.
“That’s all for the main house. Even the electricity going out to our rooms is limited. I can’t put the iron on when the lights, TV and the fridge is on. It goes out. There are days when there is no electricity in the rooms, but there’s electricity in the main house. And at the beginning of the month we are told to buy electricity for P50 each but in 2 weeks it would be finished and you have to buy more,” Mokgethisi added.
Mokgethisi concluded by saying that whoever is responsible for the regulation of this business should make sure that tenants are getting value for their money.