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

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From a local movie about the pandemic to rising coronavirus-related deaths in Australia, here’s a wrap of a few local and global headlines ahead of the weekend

1. Local headlines

The outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in South Africa earlier this year resulted in Basotho farmers’ wool and mohair destined to be exported to China being stuck in warehouses in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

South Africa experienced an outbreak of foot and mouth disease that initially occurred in January 2019 and recurred on 1 November 2019, resulting in the neighbouring country effectively being under restriction from exporting cloven hoofed animals and their products to international markets.

This affected fibre from Lesotho which, even free from the disease, was painted with the same brush as South Africa’s wool and mohair because it had to pass through South Africa first, to get to international markets, especially China.

[Basotho’s China-bound wool, mohair stuck in SA, The Reporter]

2. Local headlines

The Coronavirus pandemic continues to bear the most severe and crosscutting effects on Lesotho’s economy, with the majority of the nation across various industries losing jobs.

Latest in the toll are teachers who are on the verge of losing their jobs as schools have been closed for almost five months now. Leqele High School is one of the schools that have a good number of teachers hired and paid directly by the school. According to the school’s principal ‘Mantebele Mahamo, the teachers’ wages are sourced from  the school fees paid by the students. But now that students are no longer going to school, she says they are not paying any school fees and therefore the school is unable to pay these teachers.

Mahamo says not only the teachers will be losing jobs but their school will really be met with a setback to lose those “dedicated and hardworking” teachers. “If we can’t pay them anymore, I don’t think they will wait on us. They have families to feed and they will shift focus to other commitments. In her opinion,  the government should at least allow students to go to school to finish this academic year since nobody knows how long this pandemic is going to be in place. “What if it goes for the next two years? Would it mean there will not be any schooling activities taking place until then?

[Teachers to lose jobs, Informative News]

3. Global headlines

Australia reported its highest daily number of coronavirus-related deaths in three months on Thursday as new infections continued to climb in its second most populous state.Victoria state said it had confirmed another 403 infections, while five people had died from the virus in the last 24 hours.

“This demonstrates the growing toll this terrible virus is taking on our community,” Health Minister Jenny Mikakos told reporters in the state capital, Melbourne.

With authorities unable to bring new infections below triple digits, residents in Melbourne and most of the state are now required to wear masks outside of their homes. The rise in new infections came after Australia began relaxing strict containment measures imposed in mid-March.

While the social distancing rules – which limited mobility of residents and shuttered businesses – slowed the spread of Covid-19, Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said it has taken a heavy toll on the economy.

[Australia reports highest coronavirus deaths in 3 months, infections climb, News24]

4. In lifestyle

To sensitize Basotho on the spread and impacts of the deadly coronavirus pandemic, Basotho youth have produced a movie titled ‘The Days of covid-19’ to be released by the end of this month.

Director and Scriptwriter of the movie Khotso Mahonko said they came together as young people to form an association called ‘The Fight against Coronavirus Initiative’ in February. He said they wanted to visit people in their homes to sensitize them about the highly contagious coronavirus.

“However our initiative was cut short by the lockdown restrictions imposed by the government of Lesotho in March which forced us to review our door to door strategy hence we ended up shooting the movie,” he said.

Mahonko said they have already started with the shooting of the movie which has 25 characters aged 19 to 29 and uses both Sesotho and English. The plot of the movie is about people first hearing about the deadly virus and their struggles in observing World Health Organization guidelines. It also includes live performances by poets and musicians who perform songs and poems with direct relation to Covid-19.

[Local movie on Covid-19 set for release, Informative News]

5. What we’re reading

Today’s recommendation is a series of short stories by one of Lesotho’s budding young writers. Published by Readers Cafe Africa in 2018,  Lerato Mensah-Aborampah tells the story in a wonderfully familiar blend of Sesotho and English, and it’s so well-written that we’re sure you’ll recognize someone you know in one of the characters. [Schoolbus, Readers Cafe Africa]

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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.