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Bloodbath on jobs market



IT is now six months after Lesotho first went into lockdown following the outbreak of the Covid-19 outbreak. The disease, which has triggered global panic, has so far left 31 Basotho dead and infected 1164 others. While the figure of casualties might appear small, we believe 31 is still a huge figure for Lesotho given our small population of 2 million people. Any death of a Mosotho is just one too many. Our condolences go to families that have lost their loved ones. Six months down the line, we however note that there is a general sense of fatigue on the part of Basotho. When the lockdown was first imposed on March 31, there were real fears that Covid-19 would wipe away a huge chunk of Lesotho’s 2 million people. Conservative estimates put the number of those likely to die from the disease at a staggering 6000. That, thankfully, has so far not happened. It appears we might have dodged a bullet as infection rates have remained relatively low. There is however a downside to such good news. With the numbers remaining low, the danger is that we might begin to downplay the impact of the disease and lower our guard as a people. That would have a devastating impact on Lesotho in the event of a second wave. We must remain vigilant because this virus remains virulent as ever. This pandemic is not petering out yet. With our Covid-19 figures having remained relatively small and manageable, we think there are important lessons that we ought to have learnt as a people. Perhaps the biggest lesson we have learnt from this crisis is that there is an urgent need to revamp our health delivery system. With each country looking after its own people, Covid-19 has seriously exposed how unprepared we were as a country in terms of modern infrastructure and equipment. The pandemic has been a wake-up call reminding all of us that we cannot continue to rely on our more prosperous neighbour, South Africa, for health services. The second issue is that the Covid-19 pandemic has hit hard Lesotho’s already fragile private sector. A number of companies have already folded. There have also been massive job losses as companies battle to stay afloat. The tourism and hospitality sectors are virtually dead. It will take a miracle to resuscitate them. Other sectors such as manufacturing and aviation have been hit hard due to the continued lockdowns and other restrictions on gatherings and travel. Businesses are in serious distress and a disaster is looming for Lesotho. We would like to believe that now is the time for the government of Lesotho to start looking at creative ways to save the private sector. If nothing is done, then expect a bloodbath on the jobs market as companies are forced to fold. To put it crudely, what the private sector needs right now is the taxman off their backs for the foreseeable time. Companies need a break to allow them a chance to re-coup the losses they have suffered during the last six months. They need to access to credit to allow them to strengthen their position on the market. They might even need small grants to allow them to get back on their feet. We are sure some are not looking for huge amounts . They need small amounts to pay off key suppliers and plug some holes here and there. Without some of these measures, most companies will likely go under which would be tragic for Lesotho.

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