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

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Happy Monday! Here’s a list of a few stories that made headlines over the weekend, from healthcare workers’ demands and the looming fuel shortage in Lesotho.

1. Local headlines: 

The government of Lesotho has made an undertaking to pay hazard allowances of between M2,500 to M3,500 to health workers who treat or are exposed to Covid-19 patients. This has been announced by health minister, Motlatsi Maqelepo, in response to the Coalition of Healthworkers’ Associations’ threats to down tools from Monday July 13 if the government did not meet their demands.

Other demands included a tax holiday for health workers, sick leave for those who are Covid-19 positive, and supply of personal protective equipment. Maqelepo said although the government is not in a position to meet the tax holiday demand and sick leaves will be provided in line with World Health Organisation guidelines.

He added that PPE is being procured in batches and distributed to respective health facilities

[Govt meets some of health workers’ demands, The Reporter]

2. Local headlines:

The next few days are set to be the hardest in the energy sector in Lesotho as the nationwide truck drivers’ strike continues in South Africa, the Petroleum Fund has said.

South African truck drivers have embarked on a nationwide shutdown calling for the country’s trucking companies to remove non-South African drivers on the roads and replace them with local and qualified ones.They argue that the industry is dominated by foreign nationals, claiming that 90 percent of drivers are foreign, a condition which they denounce.

The strike started on Tuesday and has seen some roads being blocked, burning of trucks and some sporadic attacks on truck drivers who come from different African countries. This means the energy sector in Lesotho will feel the pain as the country imports petroleum products from South Africa. But now with the strike underway, local truck companies cannot travel to the neighbouring country if they are to remain safe. 

[Petroleum fund warns of looming fuel shortage, Maseru Metro News]

3. Global headlines:

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday announced a tough raft of restrictions on civil liberties to battle Covid-19. The president said: “On the recommendation of the National Coronavirus Command Council, Cabinet has… decided that the country will remain at alert Level 3 at this time, but that we should however strengthen the enforcement of existing regulations and take certain additional measures.”

These included an alcohol ban: “As we head towards the peak of infections, it is vital that we do not burden our clinics and hospitals with alcohol-related injuries that could have been avoided. 

On the curfew taking effect from Monday, 13 July 2020 at 21:00, Ramaphosa announced that “as an additional measure to reduce the pressure on hospitals, a curfew will be put in place between the hours of 21:00 and 04:00”. 

The president said in order to reduce the rate of transmission, the wearing of cloth masks would be made mandatory. 

[‘This is a fight to save every life’: Ramaphosa bans booze, enforces masks and announces curfew, News24]

4. In lifestyle:

The Lesotho Boxing Association (LeBA) publicist Rethabile Mohale says the committee understands that the nation is now living in abnormal times, hence it has decided not to resume boxing activities until things get back to their usual state in respect of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In an interview with Metro, Mohale said: “We cannot risk our players and their family lives by letting the sport resume under these conditions. Boxing is entirely a contact sport which means it would be hard to control the issue of athletes touching each other as they box.” He said it will as well be difficult to observe social distancing as one of the measures considered for protection against Covid-19 when playing the sport.

Mohale agreed that Covid-19 hinders their planning as the newly elected LeBA executive committee because they have only had a chance to meet just once since being elected into office in February. The committee met just once and did not have time to plan other matters because immediately thereafter, the virus hit the African continent.

[Boxing body continues suspending activities, Maseru Metro News]

5. What we’re reading

Here’s a short glimpse of one of our recent pieces that analyses how Lesotho’s lockdown has been brutal to citizens. “The very Police and Soldiers who have a Constitutional duty to protect and safeguard the citizens have assumed a role of barbaric monsters who cannot wait for any unjustified opportunity to carry out brutal attacks and unlawful arrests on the people.” We think it’s a great read and a timely piece for our country right now. 

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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.