Last week we were caught up in the hullabaloo of the budget and we all woke up happy because the Minister of Finance revealed that the pensioners will now receive N$1000 per month as gratuity.
We commend this move made by Schletwein but he needs to go back and look at the reality on the ground. Imagine bread alone cost N$9 a loaf, cooking oil is at N$15 per 750ml bottle and mealie meal costs about N$60 per 10kg while sugar is at N$20 per 2.5kgs. These are only the basics and this does not include other necessities such as water and electricity and under normal circumstances those will swallow a good N$600 per month.
This is the sad reality that most of these old people will have to face at and to make it worse, some of them have countless parentless grandchildren that they have to deal with. Is it really fair that our senior citizens have to live on such a shoe-string budget? While one understands the decision behind tight management of increments to their grant in relation to inflation, we all need to stay away from this hypocrisy.
Seriously, our senior citizens will do better with little remorse from the government. Perhaps Schletwein needs to be closer to reality and notice that the prices in the shops are not that cheap anymore. Here we are celebrating that our senior citizens have finally received a windfall from heaven yet the same amount that they are receiving per month is going to be used by one teenager to go and see an American pop star.
We need to call a spade a spade and face the painful reality that our senior citizens are pretty much going to be yoked in difficulty this year. If it takes about N$2000 to feed a family of four a month do we honestly expect the country’s senior citizens to live on this N$1000? Imagine if one of them is to fall sick and go be admitted into hospital certainly the whole N$1000 will be wiped away within a second.
Namibia is a rich country with a per capita Gross Domestic Product of N$15000 and surely we can afford more than just the meagre payment we are giving our old people. These are the same citizens who contributed significantly to our independence and our wellbeing today and all we can do is to give them an insult. The simple reasoning is that if a grandmother is to travel from Katima Mulilo to Windhoek process their paper work for the grant, the very same laudable N$1000 will be vanquished within the trip and again we have the guts to say hats off to the budget because it caters for the impoverished.
Certainly this hypocrisy cannot continue and one would expect the treasury and their chief to work on a realistic increment for the senior citizens next year when they announce another budget. While the current increment is expected to rise to N$1200 within the next short period, the reality is that such an increment will be a drop in the ocean.