Thursday, August 13, 2020

Hunger stalks Premier League players

Botswana Premier League players, most of whom are one pay-check way from poverty are facing hunger and starvation as their monthly earnings dry up.

Sunday Standard has established that scores of Prisons XI players are now living on hand-outs because they received their last monthly wages end of February before government called for social distancing. When the rest of the country went into panic buying, the broke footballers were watching from the side-lines because they were not paid their March salaries.

Prisons XI top brass has allegedly rebuffed players’ call for assistance are some players currently do not have food and face possible starvation.

“It is really bad for Prisons players as they only got their salaries end of February. Nothing has been communicated to them since then and their efforts to reach management continues to hit a snag. Some of them are not Botswana Prison Services (BPS) officers and only earn a living from football,’’ a source told Sunday Standard.

One player opting for anonymity in fear of victimisation said “it is so bad that I do not have food in the house. I rely on football to put food on the table. Management is ignoring us and we have tried by all means to engage with the club captain but he does not answer our calls.”

Prisons XI management could not be reached for comment as their phones rang unanswered at the time of going to press.

Morupule Wanderers players are also having to tighten their belts and get by on a shoe string budget because their wages have been slashed by a quarter without their consent. With most of the players earning an average P 4 000, their earnings have shrunk by P1000 on average.  “We got our slashed salaries this week without proper communication. It was communicated through mobile phones just a few days before pay day that our salaries have been reduced by 25% and we were not given a platform to respond. We are aware that there are challenges but I believe that there should be considerations before taking unilateral decisions,’’ one player said.

Morupule Wanderers Patron Tom Mongale however told Sunday Standard that they had consulted their players through mobile communication and everyone at the club was receptive and appreciated the developments. “We dealt with every individual. All players have individual contracts and it should be understood that we will keep assisting them even beyond their contracts ending as some are due in June 2020. We do not know where this scourge is heading but we hope to continue working together during these trying times,’’ said Mongale.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper

SEZA guns for job creation

By removing barriers to trade, restrictive policies and excessive bureaucracy, the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) hopes to attract top shelf investors...