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Greedy politicians ‘circle’ NACOSEC



When some of us pushed for the removal of former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, our expectation was that government entities would start fulfilling their purpose. We were not looking for cul-de-sac opportunities that lead to nowhere. One of the issues that were a cause for concern towards the end of Thabane’s rule was the National Emergency Command Centre (NECC) which was established on the premise that it would spearhead the efforts to control the spread of the novel Coronavirus. However right from the beginning the Command Centre has been marred by controversy as it was characterised by inaction and an inability to answer concerns from the public regarding their efforts to counter this pandemic. The entity that took the reins from NECC in the fight against Covid-19, the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC), unfortunately also looks like it is about to hit a dead-end. A key motivation for ousting the regime, despite there being an ongoing international health crisis, is that we believed the country was better off with a new government that would address the lackluster approach to countering this virus as opposed to being cautious about making political moves to oust Thabane during a pandemic and risk suffering the consequences of the ineffective Command Centre. Even researchers assert that had our country been more pro-active during the preparation phase, before we recorded the first incidents of the virus, we would have a better grip of this disease. In contrast, what we got instead is a Command Centre which couldn’t even contain the influx of Basotho migrants, who returned to their homeland from South Africa, and managed to rejoin their villages untested. Post the Thabane regime we learnt that our suspicions that the NECC was not for the benefit of Basotho were correct as there surfaced claims of wastage of funds by the entity. For instance, the building used to house the Command Centre, the ’Manthabiseng Convention Centre, cost the NECC more in a day had the government leased out this building in a month. In effect government paid the company owned by notorious Chinese businessman and Thabane’s political advisor John Xie, exorbitant prices for their own building, during a pandemic. Hence Xie was pocketing money allocated to fighting this disease, while the majority of Basotho businesses were either closed or faced restriction, to curb the spread of Covid-19. Furthermore, it also came to light that while Basotho sacrificed their livelihood without cushioning from government whatsoever, members of the NECC feasted on a daily basis and this was apparent due to the ridiculous amount of money the entity spent on catering services. Thus when Nacosec was presented to us, it gave us a new hope that the fight against Covid-19 could be revitalised to become a meaningful one. I remember how impressed I was when I first heard the Nacosec’s Chief Executive Thabo Khasipe table his plan to fight the spread of Covid-19. I thought to myself here is someone who sounds like he knows what he is talking about. It is unfortunate that the promise that Nacosec gave us is now being overshadowed by shameless and inconsiderate politicians who do not seem to fathom the gravity of this situation. The agenda of Nacosec to combat this disease has been overtaken by interest of the factions of the All Basotho Convention (ABC). In addition, Nacosec’s agenda is being impeded by myopic issues such as tenders to provide goods and services to the entity, and fifty temporary posts, that ought to last the duration of the pandemic. These jobs have resulted in problems, as political elites within the ABC are scrambling to recruit their own people. They see the Covid-19 and the institution of Nacosec, as a means to line the pockets of their political cronies and buy political party loyalty, through tenderprenueship and offering employment. Moreover, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Law which are both influenced by factions within the ABC see this crisis as another moneymaking avenue for their own, even arguing if they don’t take advantage of these opportunities brought forth by Covid-19, the Prime Minister is intending to do so. I know it is a positive thing to see opportunity in every predicament but I think Covid-19 should be an exception. We ought to be ready for a foreseen hike in the number of Covid-19 cases in September. However, the body tasked to mitigate the disease is cash-strapped. While trying to figure out how to go around government red-tape to allow Nacosec to fulfill its mandate, time is being wasted. We have wasted time afforded to us as a country by the stroke of grace as Lesotho was one of last countries in the world to record incidences of this deadly disease. However, with a population of approximately two million, we are steadily going to a thousand cases. Many other cases might also have gone unrecorded. However, instead of ensuring that the initiative to counter the spread of Covid-19 doesn’t fail for the second time, the ABC is more concerned about who gets what, within their ranks. This is happening at a time when we are running short of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers. A challenge cited by most people I have encountered, that contracted this virus and were quarantined in the state facility in Teyateyaneng, is not that it is not the dedication and selflessness of frontline workers that can be questioned but rather a shortage of resources which made their stay at the facility uncomfortable. It is sad that frontline workers are expected to tackle this pandemic head on, but they are given the bare minimum. They are expected to endanger their lives due to insufficient equipment, while politicians continue to be self-serving, during such a critical time. It is demoralising that the ABC seems hell-bent on wasting more time rather than fight the pandemic. The ABC led a feeding spree with the now defunct NECC and they seem intent on pushing for the dissolution of Nacosec. Despite our condition of lack, the ABC cannot look beyond their greed and their party skirmishes to ensure the safety of our people. The painful truth is that it is average citizens that have the most to lose. The aspirations of the average Mosotho have been put on hold for months now and their pockets have been hit hard. While this is happening, the ABC is only concerned with pushing its own narrow interests. Ramahooana matlosa

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