Since the beginning of the dramatic circumstances we are experiencing worldwide, I have abstained from making unnecessary comments on social media about the measures being taken by governments to deal with this catastrophe.

However, when hearing about the complete and sudden lockdown of all supermarkets, bakeries, shops and food outlets imposed on us by the Mauritian government, I could not but feel dismayed by such a decision in view of the fact that it goes against Article 25 (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which reads as follows: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”

“Food”: Whether we like it or not, we need food. So, before taking such a decision, had the government taken necessary steps to ensure that all households would have enough food during the total confinement for all members of the family, especially, the old people, the sick, young children and babies? Come on, were 35000 packs of basic essentials enough to satisfy the whole population of deprived families? I have read so many comments, surely from those who have, for months, been stocking foodstuffs to last for six months, insulting those who were informing the “concerned” authorities about their dire hardship to feed their children and their babies. The same comments that I have often heard and often about those lazy people who just know how to buy alcoholic drinks and drugs, who have not saved money etc., ignoring that there are genuine cases who have the money but have been denied access to the “ti laboutik” to buy their mine Apollo, milk, tea and other commodities on a daily basis.

Paul and I, for years, have not had the habit of buying large stocks of foodstuffs because we do not like to throw away vegetables, fruits and pulses that have gone stale or are rotten. Moreover, “The parable of the Rich Fool” – Luke 12:20 whereby God says to the rich man who has stocked food and is contemplating sitting back and enjoying life, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” has always inspired us. We are mortals and we will not carry our “bags of flour, rice, vegetables” etc. with us.

Trusting the Minister of Commerce who insisted that there was no shortage of flour and other basic food essentials, we were using whatever we had, without rushing to the supermarket to do panic buying. As we are without flour, and are not living in those regions where bakeries and ‘ti bazars’ are open, and where policemen are helping people to have bread and vegetables, we have had to rely on online shopping on the sites which have governmental approval. The other sites being unavailable, we ordered from a well-known website which advertised its SOS food essential baskets, especially for senior citizens aged 65+. How lucky that Paul falls in this category of citizens. The price of the basket … Rs.3610 and a very nice pic of the goods. However, unlike other sites, the website did not show a list of the goods and the price lists. Only after we ordered and paid that a list of the food items was given, without the total price. We received our articles: 1 pack 5kg of basmati rice, 1 Colgate toothpaste, 1 mouthwash, 4 lifebuoy soap, 15 packets 500gm of macaroni, 2 jars of cooked tomato olive/basilic, 12 cans tuna in oil, 4 cans of chicken luncheon meat, 9 cans of lentils/green peas/white beans/chick peas. No flour, no oil, no cheese, no butter, no sugar, no tea. And when we add up the total price of the goods, it is Rs.2 842 and not Rs.3 610 that we paid.

When we checked on the website, at the bottom of the list, it informs that the basket price includes Rs.518 for the reception of the goods by Logidis and Rs.250 as delivery service. Total Rs.768 which brings the total to Rs.3 610.
Which means that senior citizens, in this time of hardship are being abused beyond decency and respect.
Thank you, government, because we will eat macaroni and tuna as never before, we will still have to do without flour, vegetables and fruits, we will wash our hands and clean our mouths and sit in front of our TV to watch your press conferences awaiting what other good decisions you have in store for us. Thank you, thank you, thank you !

ELIETTE COMMARMOND