‘Govt must feed us’

People who have lost their livelihood because of the state of emergency are pleading for food aid.


ILENI NANDJATO


OSHAKATI


Informal traders are appealing to the government to feed them after the coronavirus outbreak necessitated the closure of open markets and the halting of street vending activities throughout the country during the national state of emergency.


Traders have also urged the government to give them start-up capital to resume their operations after the crisis.


They feel that the government took the decision to close their businesses but did not make any alternative plans for how they will survive.


Oshakati street vendor Gideon Shihepo (27) said they were doing business in order to not bother the government for employment, but now that they are forced to stay home, they want the government to take care of them.


“We understand the government’s efforts in the fight against Covid-19 and we are complying. What kept us in the streets was survival, but now that we are closed, we are finding it hard to survive. We have families to take care of,” Shihepo said.


Out of business


“For 21 days, [being] out of business is just like a year. We are not sure if we will resume after those 21 days. We were dependent on our businesses, and for all those days, how are we expected to survive?”


Ongwediva vendor Klaudia Shikalepo said after 21 days, they will be faced with many challenges.


“After 21 days, schools will resume and we have to send them [our children] to school. Where will we get money to buy uniforms, for transport money, stationery and lunch boxes? We also have rent to pay, and since we are not doing any business, we are already using up our savings that will be finished in a few days,” she said.


“Government and town council employees are happy to stay at their houses because they can get their salaries at the end of the month. What about us? Government needs come to our rescue, even with capital to assist us to resume our businesses.”


Shikalepo said they may not pay tax directly to the government, but contribute through value-added tax when they go shopping and pay rent to local authorities.


Addressing the media on Monday, Oshana governor Elia Irimari said the government was looking at food relief through the Office of the Prime Minister to assist affected communities.

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