COVID 19 outbreak hit Morutsha village hard


“Our clients are Americans, Italians and Spanish and they are dying in numbers”

Located on the edge of the magnificent Okavango Delta, Morutsha village lies within NG 32 ,a large concession characterised by sprawling floodplains and a lifestyle solely dependent on tourism.

On a bright sunny Wednesday morning this week , the residents of Morutsha crowded under the village’s big tree to watch the road..

Young and old, almost all the 300 of them violated the Covid-19 regulations to stay indoors and observe extreme social distancing and met under the tree to wait for the arrival of the government social worker with food relief packages.

COVID 19 outbreak hit Morutsha village hard
Food Hampers

And then faces lit up and sighs of relief broke out as two trucks loaded with food and toiletry arrived.

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“We are hungry. We desperately needed food. We have patiently waited for so long for social services to show up so we can have a good meal for a change. We are tired of consuming watermelons every day,” said Kebonyemotse Mokokwane.

IN THE LURCH: Kebonyemotse Mokokwane

The 71-year old man was dependent on son, a poler who has since died.

“He left me in the lurch and I am now reduced to a beggar. Tourists no longer come to our village and therefore we are not getting any gifts and handouts from them. Ours is an animal protected zone, so we cannot do much subsitance ploughing,” Mokokwane explained.

For many years, residents of this small village enjoyed fruits of the tourism activities in this area, which has been listed as a heritage site.

The residents’s main source of livelyhood has mostly been poling of traditional canoes and tour guiding, besides the government’s drought relief programme, (namola leuba.)

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Asked about why they were not social distancing a 47 –year- old poler Dichaoto Boitshwarelo said,“Are you kidding me! Nobody stays indoors when they are hungry. There has to be a way to find food and my friend, that is called survival.”

Explaining how the cessation of tourism activities has hit their pockets hard, Boitshwarelo said, , “Yes tourists do give some token of appreciation, sometimes they come to the village for photographic purposes and when they take our pictures they pay us.”

Many people in Morutsha have other homes either in Maun, Shorobe or Ditshiping, but such homes are mostly used for business purposes.

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We use those homes to sell cooked food, especially fish for polers, “I am a cook because when polers go to the river, they need breakfast and lunch packs to carry with them and that is where my trade is,” explains Kehakgametse Chombo.

But now with the outbreak of COVID -19 that has been killing thousands of people the world over since the beginning of the year, polers are afraid their businesses may take long to recover, spelling more days of waiting for the social worker’s truck arrival.

“I guess more hard times are yet to come. My worry is that the very people who have been bringing us business and boosting our economy are dying in large numbers. Our clientelle are mostly Americans, Italians, Spanish and English people among others,” said Gontlekgosi Kwelo.

WORRIED: Gontlekgosi Kwelo

So far Botswana has recorded 22 cases of Covid 19 with one death mostly in the southern part of the country.

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