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

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1. Local headlines

Local insurance company Alliance Insurance Group has availed up to M1.5-million to help mitigate and cushion the impact of the dreaded Covid-19 pandemic on vulnerable sections of society. Alliance Insurance Group is an innovative and seasoned company that has been making inroads in the local insurance industry for the past 26 years.

Having noted the worldwide spread of Convid-19 and its impact on the economy, companies and households, the company has identified three sectors to reach out to countrywide, which will be assisted  in a phased manner starting on June 11. Registered orphanages and old age homes will receive food parcels based on the number of children and elderly people they look after and street vendors selling perishable goods will be assisted with stock vouchers. 

Finally, Alliance has procured personal protective equipment which will be distributed to street vendors, taxi operators and police, among sectors that involve interaction with many people on a daily basis. [Alliance forks out M1.5m to help the needy, The Reporter]

2. Local headlines

Liquor store owners have pleaded with the government to allow them to resume daily operations after the COVID-19 lockdown from 30 March to 5 May 2020 was lifted. Most non-essential businesses were allowed to resume daily operations but the sale of liquor is only allowed on Mondays and Thursdays.

This, however, is not enough according to the Lesotho Liquor and Restaurant Owners Association. The association’s treasurer, ‘Matlotliso Kolope, adds that the two days on which they were allowed to conduct their business were not sufficient because most of their clients would be at work.

Public health regulations prescribe social distancing and bar gatherings of no more than 50 people at any place. But Ms Kolope said there was no justification for limiting them to just two business days per week when other businesses that served even greater numbers of people were allowed to operate daily.

She also appealed to the government to give small liquor retailers financial aid from the M500 million it said it had set aside to assist struggling small businesses. The fund was announced last month by then Prime Minister Thomas Thabane but to date no company has benefited from it nor has the government even outlined the criteria for eligibility for the funds or how they will be managed. [Liquor traders beg govt to allow daily operations, Sunday Express]

3. Global headlines

Coronavirus-related cases and deaths across Latin America are rising faster than anywhere in the world and in the worst-hit countries, they show no signs of slowing down. The region has recorded nearly 1.2 million cases and more than 60,000 deaths.

“We are especially worried about Central and South America, where many countries are witnessing accelerating epidemics,” World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday. The WHO does not believe either Central or South America have reached peak transmission, meaning the number of people getting sick and dying might continue to rise.

Here’s a quick summary of the situation in Brazil, Mexico and Peru. 

Brazil has recorded at least 645,771 coronavirus cases and 35,026 deaths. It recently passed Italy to become the country with the third-highest deaths in the world and will likely surpass the United Kingdom soon.

On the other hand, Mexico recorded more than 1,000 deaths in a single day for the first time, making last week the worst of the outbreak, both in confirmed cases and deaths. Despite the bleak numbers, and conflicting messages from government leaders, officials have pushed ahead with a phased reopening plan across the country.

In Peru, people lined up for hours to get their oxygen tanks refilled. But once they got to the front of the line, relatives of patients with COVID-19 found skyrocketing prices. Public health officials are determined to “avoid the development of a black market that is mercantile and uses a pandemic to abuse people.” Peru has the second highest number of cases in the region behind Brazil but even with that, the economic toll has pressured authorities to reopen the economy. [Latin America is losing the battle against coronavirus ,CNN]

4. In lifestyle & entertainment

Yvonne Orji’s groundbreaking HBO comedy special, Yvonne Orji: Momma, I Made It! opens with an aerial shot of Lagos taken back in January. “There’s no way I could do a special about my life without showing you my life,” she says in the opening sequence. And the other side of that life is the United States, specifically the DMV (Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia) area, where she grew up which boasts one of the largest Nigerian American populations in the U.S. 

Orji’s comedic perspective as a Nigerian immigrant in the U.S. is groundbreaking now but, hopefully, will be more common as time goes on. Women, in general, rarely get their own comedy specials and Orji is unintentionally blazing new trails for African women. The “documentary-music-video-comedy-show” will be available on HBO’s different streaming platforms across the Americas and Africa.[In Conversation: Yvonne Orji on Her Groundbreaking HBO Comedy Special Momma, I Made It!, OkayAfrica]

5. What we’re reading

“Likheleke tsa puo”, meaning “wordsmiths” in Sesotho, contains 23 original stories that have never been published before. They are written in both English and Lesotho’s original brand of Sesotho because the creators assert that it’s incredibly important to promote indigenous language and allow writers to express themselves how they are most comfortable. Edited by Lineo Segoete, Makate Maieane and Zachary Rosen, this anthology will be a new favourite on your bookshelf!

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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.