Wasting away at Mururani

Informal jobs, fickle pay days and no tangible development are the realities of Mururani's residents.

30 September 2019 | Local News

Farmworkers at commercial farms near Mururani in Kavango West claim that they are paid 'peanuts' and that their salaries are sometimes delayed by up to four months.

Mururani, about 130 kilometres from Rundu, lacks job opportunities as the only people permanently employed in the area are the teachers at the local school and the police officers stationed at the Mururani veterinary checkpoint.

The only other opportunities are to do casual work in a shebeen, a shop or on a farm.

Matias Tjimanya and Mandume Paulus told Namibian Sun that their community lacks jobs and development projects.

The two have been living with their families at Mururani for more than eight years.

They work on a nearby commercial farm, cutting wood, and are only paid once the wood has been sold by the farm owner.

They claim that sometimes they wait up to four months for their pay.

“There is no proper work in Mururani. The only people employed and making a decent living here are the teachers who teach at the local school and the law enforcement officers employed at the Mururani veterinary gate. As for us who don't have formal education, our only hope is to work on the farms,” they said.

Paulus said taking care of his family is a huge challenge, especially when he has to leave them for months to go and work on farms.

Paulus says he earns about N$800 a month. From that he buys food for himself and the remainder he shares with his family.

“How can you live on N$800 if you have to buy food to eat at the farm and you still have to give money to your wife to settle the water bill and buy food? It is difficult to survive,” Paulus said.

“The money we get paid at the farms is not enough and sometimes our women accuse us of spending it on mistresses because months would go by without going home as you wait to get paid.”

Tjimanya showed Namibian Sun how his hands have been affected by cutting wood, adding that they do not get proper medical attention when they are injured.

“Look at my hand. This is the result of wanting to support your family yet they pay you peanuts,” Tjimanya said. Paulus said he once cut his foot with an axe and the farm owner did not offer him any assistance.

He said he had to choose between working under harsh conditions and starving with his family, so he opted to return to work.

“I have a wife and four kids. I had to go back as soon as I recovered otherwise they would have starved,” he said. The two called on the government to create job opportunities, arguing that there would be less dependency on government grants and drought relief if people had jobs.

Kavango West regional governor Sirkka Ausiku said in her 2019 state of the region address that the unemployment rate in the region stood at 33%, with a youth unemployment rate of around 47%.

KENYA KAMBOWE

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