#Top5atFive: Here’s what’s happening in Lesotho and around the globe

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From criticism of the LHDA’s benefits to Basotho to human trials for a COVID-19 vaccine, here’s a mid-week wrap of the stories making headlines in Lesotho and around the world.

1. Local headlines: 

The Ministry of Health (MoH) through the National Emergency Command Centre (NECC) has confirmed having received reports from its Zimbabwe counterpart that the country has recorded four COVID-19 cases imported from Lesotho.

This is after the Zimbabwe MoH announced 62 new COVID-19 cases, including four imported from Lesotho. Stating Lesotho’s position on the matter, International Health Regulations Manager in the MoH Lesotho, Khotso Mahomo said these are four females who were allegedly residing in Lesotho.

He confirmed having received this report from their counterparts in Zimbabwe but said there are predicaments regarding these cases. Among others, Mahamo assured the Basotho nation that these four people do not appear on Zimbabwean nationals repatriation list from Lesotho to Zimbabwe. [MoH clarifies Zimbabwe Covid-19 cases, The Reporter]

2. Local headlines:

Over 7 000 small businesses and street vendors face tragedy over the low income generated by their business over the 15-week lockdown the government imposed from March 29 this year. To answer their urgent call for help, MXXL Space Radio has launched a Covid-19 relief fund dubbed MXXL COVID Foundation to help these vulnerable people to restart their business. 

Since June this year, this fund has also been used to help schools clean their facilities in order to curb the spread of the virus when students return to school. MXXL Space Radio is a privately-owned radio station. Thabo Moshoeshoe, a consultant for the MXXL COVID Foundation, said they talked to numerous organisations –  including the African Union and the World Bank –  which have promised them about M50 million for small businesses and street vendors.

The MXXL COVID foundation has also promised to urgently negotiate with the revenue authority to reduce tax for companies donating in the fund as a return the ‘favor’. [SMMEs face collapse after Covid-19 lockdown, Public Eye News]

3. Global headlines:

Human trials for a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University are beginning in South Africa and in Brazil. Some 2,000 people in South Africa will be involved in what is widely considered to be one of the earliest and most advanced trials for a vaccine to tackle the pandemic.

The first doses of the vaccine are being administered in Johannesburg this week. South Africa has been chosen, not just for its expertise in this field, but because Covid-19 is now spreading fast here. That makes it far easier for scientists to find a community at immediate risk of infection, and to then tell whether this British vaccine is effective.

Similar tests are already underway in the UK, but the infection rate there is slowing. Hence the move, not just to South Africa, but to Brazil too, where 5,000 people will be involved in the vaccine trial. [Human trials for coronavirus vaccine start in South Africa, BBC]

4. In lifestyle/arts:

The Hub has partnered with other local organisations to come up with a drama series called ‘Bona Corona’ which aims to educate people on how to stay safe from the deadly pandemic.

Based in Morija, The Hub is a creative technology lab that aims to foster a community of young people who are skilled, inspired, motivated and socially conscious.  

The Hub coordinator, Meri Hyӧky says that ‘Bona Corona’ is a series of comics and radio dramas produced by Tshepo 1Million, a Gauteng Provincial Government youth empowerment initiative. The Hub saw the comics on Tshepo1Million’s Twitter account and messaged them to propose translating the comics into Sesotho. [Corona dramas to help youth, TheReporter]

5. What we’re reading:

This article tallies the human cost of the Polihali Dam on the Basotho villagers whose livelihoods have been impacted by the construction of the dam. As climate change exacerbates drought conditions in some parts of Africa, the age-old conversation around the politics and economics of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project becomes even more critical. [Another African Nation’s Thirst Takes Villagers’ Land, Bloomberg]

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Matlhabeli Molaoli
Matlhabeli is a reader, an Afro-feminist and a firm believer in the power of human-centered design to create lasting social-economic impact. She is a rising junior at Smith College where she majors in both Biochemistry and Anthropology and also dabbles in venture consulting for the local start-up ecosystem. Matlhabeli also enjoys dialogue so she has spent much of her time attending, speaking at and organising TEDx conferences in both Lesotho and South Africa during her time as a student at the African Leadership Academy.