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The right call



THE decision by Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro to impose a total lockdown is coming four weeks late after the proverbial horses have bolted. Late as it is, we however think it was the right call to make. As early as December last year, the alarm bells were already being sounded over the potential threat Basotho migrant workers would pose if they were allowed to come back home. The government did absolutely nothing to stop the illegal movement of people. There were no tests at the borders. Four weeks later, we are beginning to see the fatal cost of our indecisiveness and prevarication; the numbers of those infected by Covid-19 and those who have unfortunately died have gone up astronomically. This was a tragic failure of leadership at the national level. With the benefit of hindsight, we should have shut down our borders earlier. We should have demanded Covid-free certificates from returning residents. We did neither of the above, allegedly for political reasons. No one within the coalition government was prepared to take the bold decision to stop Basotho migrant workers from returning home. We are reliably told that our political leaders apparently had an eye on the 2022 elections and none were prepared to antagonise a key voting bloc. With Lesotho now in the eye of a storm, no one is prepared to accept culpability. Those tasked with keeping us safe appear clueless. There is now a sense of resignation among some of our people, waiting to die. That is tragic. In the last week alone, we have lost people we knew and were close to our hearts; Covid-19 is no longer a matter of dry statistics churned out from the Nacosec machine. We now relate it to people we know who have died. This has been an extremely traumatic week for Lesotho. Covid-19 is disrupting our lives. It is beginning to seriously affect our mental health. Others are developing suicidal thoughts. Even those who have survived are left scarred for life. Yet even when the disease is wreaking havoc in Lesotho, we still have individuals who want to dabble in conspiracy theories about the efficacy of vaccines. This is a misguided and unhelpful debate at this juncture. Those who have visited Berea Hospital and Mafeteng Hospital, institutions that have been set aside to treat Covid-19, have sad stories to tell about the sheer desperation and trauma this disease is bringing on our people. Despite their valiant efforts, our medical practitioners are simply being overwhelmed. As graphically captured in one of our stories this week, very few among our doctors were trained to deal with a pandemic of this magnitude. We commiserate with them and urge them to fight on. The National Covid-19 Secretariat (Nacosec) has been issuing weekly updates on the pandemic. So far, it says only 85 people have died as a direct result of Covid-19. Given what they have seen on the ground, people are beginning to seriously question the integrity of the stats that are being issued by Nacosec. Could this be the biggest cover-up in the history of Lesotho? And if this is a cover-up, the question is: Why? In crisis management, it is always the best policy to speak the truth. Our mortuaries are full, according to Prime Minister Majoro. In principle, we totally agree with the decision to impose a total lockdown. The situation on the ground is extremely dire. However, we still have pockets of resistance among sections of our society. These must be persuaded to comply even if that means putting boots on the ground.

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