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Walk your talk, Mr Prime Minister



I watched Lesotho Television this past week and simply concluded that the burial service of Major General Metsing Lekhanya was a premeditated super spreader of the deadly Covid-19 virus that has cost us over 100 lives so far. Lest we talk about the fact that those are only the documented deaths, there are people dying every day in villages across the country from what is often referred to as a strong flu. Something seems to have evaded His Majesty’s government – that state funerals are not immune to this deadly virus. There is a pattern here and you were correct Mr Prime Minister. The pattern suggests that people who attend funeral services come back infected by the deadly coronavirus. The only thing I contend with is that you do not practice what you preach Mr Prime Minister. The government facilitated a state funeral with over 100 people in attendance. All these people failed to ascribe to the social distancing protocol. Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro has taught this nation that funerals are super spreaders. Moreover, the Prime Minister went as far making the bold assertion that the only reason Basotho continue to go to funerals, despite being warned about their danger, is so that they access the food at funerals. This is the second funeral in the past two weeks that was attended by government officials. Prime Minister and his cabinet ministers recently attended a funeral in Mokhotlong. I understand it was a very sad occasion in which eight people, all members of the same family, were brutally murdered. However, even under such circumstances true leaders lead by example. What I found even more shocking is that they had the guts to do a live streaming of the event on Lesotho Television. They couldn’t pass up the opportunity be seen at this grand affair. The Major General’s funeral was a social event during these hard times where physical interaction is supposed to be limited. It is shocking that the government expects the masses to bury their dead in a way foreign to them, contrary to their culture and in the absence of family and friends, yet they are unable to do the same. I listened to Communications Minister Thesele ’Maseribane bid farewell to Lekhanya. In his speech he detailed their long history which stems from their shared political inclination. However, I could not be moved by this commemoration knowing that many Basotho also yearn to make such speeches to honour their loved ones. However, in the name of respecting Covid 19 regulations, they stay at home. This funeral practically gave the general public the middle finger. It was made apparent to us that there are important people in this country that deserve to be mourned and other important people that deserve to mourn. As for the rest of us, our loved ones who have died are just nonentities, buried by other nonentities, that just go to funerals for food. Stay at home and observe social distancing, they say. However, they are unable to do the same. I was bemused to hear a few months ago that Minister Makoae was in Bloemfotein when she got Covid-19 and also managed to get treatment in our neighbouring country that by far surpasses our own. Could this be the reason why our government officials are this callous, because they know that when they are infected that they can obtain better treatment in South Africa? Is that why they do not care to improve services at Covid-19 facilities in Berea and Mafeteng? This is how the Prime Minister sleeps peacefully knowing there are shortages in oxygen in Mafeteng and Berea, because if he falls sick, he has access to world class hospitals that always have oxygen. Don’t get me wrong – the rules and regulations imposed on funeral processions in the country are a necessity to counter this virus. However, it a bitter pill to swallow that these rules only apply to ordinary people and not the rule-makers. A good friend of mine and comrade, Tšoarelo Mojau, pointed something out on her Facebook page. She alluded that the arrangement of the funeral such as the big tent and the many chairs were a clear indication that the government had intentionally planned a big farewell for Lekhanya. She added that this state funeral was unlike the funerals we see in our communities that end up big because the community and friends fail to stay away even if the family had planned a small funeral. Other than the fact that the size of the state funeral was premeditated, another thing that dawned on me is that we are already struggling to enforce funeral regulations in our villages and we are also unable to get the public to accept the new normal in this regard. When government itself fails to stick to the rules they make, what more will the ordinary folk do, especially when not all of them understand these rules? The lockdown has had implications that are not only social but also economic. The hard lockdown has had negative effects on the livelihoods of many. It is very demoralizing for someone who is struggling to eat, who has to scramble to get by on nothing because there is a scary monster called Covid-19 out there. Yet he sees people in power going about their business like there is nothing. In fact, the Lekhanya funeral was an insult to the poor and to every one that has had to close their business and forfeit their income over the past three weeks. Just as I was reeling from the Major General’s state funeral, I became more perplexed when I saw the Prime Minister’s response to the whole matter in a tweet. The Prime Minister reiterated the fact that funeral were Covid-19 super spreaders but this was before he stated that he and His Majesty were not at the funeral and the speech was recorded the morning of the funeral. Moreover, he trolled the public for lambasting him about a funeral he didn’t attend in person. What I find ironic about this statement is that the captain of this ship was unashamedly shifting responsibility. Just a few weeks ago we watched as our neighbours South Africa buried a sitting Minister Justice Mthembu, a man equally loved by the country and the ruling ANC. During his funeral Covid regulations were upheld, with a limited number in attendance and social distancing obviously observed. Considering that when it comes to funerals our neighbours also have a great respect for the dead and under normal circumstances flock to funerals in large numbers, Mthembu’s burial was evidence that Covid-19 regulations can be respected at a funeral, no matter who the deceased is. Thus, I am baffled why in this regard the Prime Minister failed to copy from South Africa. Ramahooana Matlosa

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