Joblessness and poverty in Samora Machel Constituency compelled over 200 mothers in the area to overnight at the constituency office to be first in line to register for the orphans and vulnerable children’s grant.
The Ministry of Gender and Child Welfare is in the process of registering qualifying recipients who will each receive a N$250 monthly social grant. Some mothers slept on cardboard boxes collected from a nearby supermarket and covered themselves with blankets to keep the cold at bay.
However, with the breaking of dawn their patience soon ran thin as they claimed officials only started with the registration process at 10h00. According to them, only 60 people will be registered per day for the next few days. One of the mothers, who started to queue up already at 11h00 on Sunday morning to ensure she can register by Monday morning, said her previous two attempts to register had been unsuccessful.
By 10h30 on Monday, Havana resident and mother of three Fredick Nangolo, 33, was still not attended to. Nangolo said she lives with 16 other people and their only income is from her husband and brother, who are employed on a part-time basis.
“The house is very full. It’s my husband and brother’s meagre salary that maintains us. The rest are unemployed and we’re looking for work. Like yesterday, we didn’t have food at home. We went to borrow N$200,” stated Nangolo who added that 10kg maize meal bag only lasts a week at their home.
Hence, she wants her three children to benefit from the welfare programme as it would help a lot.
Samora Machel Constituency Councillor Fanuel Shivute said the turnout of mostly mothers at the office is an indication that poverty levels are high in the constituency, although there are ongoing initiatives, such as President Hage Geingob’s Winter Charity Drive whereby the poorest people receive food and blankets.
Shivute further said registration for the food bank programme is also underway and started three weeks ago at the constituency office. “We sent those with children home on Sunday evening after we wrote down their names on a list that will be followed by the ministry, because it was too cold [for them to wait outside the whole night].”
Ministry spokesperson Charlie Matengu said the grant is intended for the children of parents who are deceased, who earn N$1 000 or less a month, or who are in jail for a period of six months or more.
Matengu said registration starts at 08h00 and closing time is determined by the officials on duty, as some work until 18h00 or 19h00 and do not even take lunch breaks because they want to register as many as they can.
The registration at Samora Machel Consitutency office ends on July 21, although it will be extended beyond that in other regions. The registration process will next proceed to Khomasdal.