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Restrictions must be strictly enforced



PRIME Minister Moeketsi Majoro last weekend announced new tighter restrictions in an effort to stem the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Under the new restrictions, religious services, initiation schools, political rallies have all been banned. The numbers of people attending weddings and funerals have also been drastically cut. Even the manner in which we conduct our funerals has also been significantly affected with all burials expected to be done by 10am. The government argues these new measures, painful as they may seem, are necessary to stem the spread of Covid-19 which has so far killed six people while infecting over 359 others. We applaud Majoro and his government for coming up with these new measures. Yet our recent history with the disease tells us that all this might come to naught if the new measures are not strictly enforced. The Prime Minister must ensure that there is zero tolerance for those who flout the new restrictions. We have not forgotten how the last lockdown imposed in March collapsed spectacularly as Basotho went about their business as if everything was normal. Instead of cutting the numbers at our funerals, we justified such large gatherings by citing our “culture” which did not allow us to limit the numbers of mourners. Churches continued to operate, sometimes in direct conflict with the governmental restrictions. Instead of enforcing the rules, the government appeared to have given up, complaining bitterly about how Basotho were not ready to be commandeered into a lockdown. That lackadaisical approach, which smacked of a dereliction of duty, was totally unacceptable on the part of the government. However, it would be foolhardy for us to blame the government alone. Ordinary Basotho were equally susceptible. Even when we were warned about the dangers of Covid-19, we appeared unprepared to comply with the tight restrictions. Without any single case of Covid-19, let alone a death directly attributed to the disease, it just did not make sense to the majority of our people to be in such a tight lockdown. The result was that we took the disease lightly and went about our business as if everything was still normal. Instead of complying with the restrictions for our good, we took an adversarial approach thinking the government was out to deprive us of our basic freedoms of movement and association. But now three months down the line, we have come face-t0-face with the deadly pandemic. Every day, we hear of sad stories of relatives, acquaintances, work colleagues and friends who have been infected. We are slowly watching, helplessly, as our friends and relatives are beginning to die of the disease. The nature of the disease is that you die alone and you are buried without most of your loved ones to give you a hearty send-off. That is scary. If what we have seen so far will not push us towards a situation where we are not coerced into some form of lockdown on our own, then nothing ever will. We do not need the military to enforce compliance. We must simply comply for our own good. With a creaky health delivery system, we know we are in no position to fight back against this disease. The best way therefore is to ensure we have very minimal numbers getting infected. That should be our only salvation.  

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