Covid-19 impoverishes bartenders

FRANCISTOWN. — Bartenders are struggling to make ends meet as they have been out of work since the alcohol ban recently imposed by the government.

Such devastating development comes when the national unemployment rate that has grown from 20.7 percent in the last quarter of 2019 to 22.2 percent according to Statistics Botswana data, showing that youth unemployment has equally shot up from 26.7 percent to 28.8 percent. Since the outbreak of Covid-19 and ban of alcohol sales a lot of people have lost their jobs and others going home with nothing.

In addition, the decision left most of the bartenders broke whilst their bills keep piling up. For example, an Area L Brown’s bar bartender Gothusang Tshetlho was left impoverished since the closure of bars. Despite that, the 36-year-old Maitengwe native understands that due to the current situation, there was a need for bars to remain closed due to the fight against Covid-19.

She said that ever since the government stopped the wage subsidy, bartenders and people working in the same industry have been struggling to survive. Tshetlho’s fear is that she might be evicted from her rented room because she is behind on rentals and cannot even afford to pay utility bills. The mother of two said that due to the difficulties she had to withdraw her two toddlers from pre-school because she was also behind on their school fees payment.

The bartender said: “The recent increment of transport fares has rubbed salt into the wound. Now, I am even forced to walk around as I look for piece jobs.”

Tshetlho also said that as a breadwinner of her family, it is going to be difficult for her to assist her family with financially. She was also concerned about the standard of living for people who made a living by collecting discarded cans and bottles in front of bars. She further said that the same people are equally affected by the closure of bars as some earned a living by picking up discarded cans and were able to supplement their social security or welfare benefits.

Tshetlho added: “Closure of bars affected the livelihoods of most unemployed people because some of them sold fast food and airtime in front of bars so that they can sustain a living.”

She said that the government should bring back wage subsidy so that they can make a living in the interim.

Another bartender, Tumelo Mmusi echoed the same sentiments with Tshetlho.

The 22-year-old who resides in Phase Six said that the situation is so painful. She said that at the end of this month she did not get her salary because she did not work. — Mmegi.

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