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


This week marked the reopening of South African schools after a nation-wide lockdown. Take a look at what else has been happening in Lesotho and around the world. 

1. Local headlines

Excavation work has started this week on two diversion tunnels which form an important part of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) Phase II, the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) has announced.

The two tunnels will divert the waters of the Senqu River away from the natural river bed creating a dry foundation and work area needed for the construction of the Polihali Dam. Tente Tente, Chief Eexecutive of the LHDA, confirmed that the construction of the diversion tunnels is an important element of the Phase II advance infrastructure works which were halted during the Covid-19 lockdown period. 

“We are pleased to see construction work restarting, including the work on the diversion tunnels.  However, particularly at this time, the LHDA’s priority is the safety of its employees and the Project affected communities. Full resumption of the Phase II advance infrastructure construction works and the Project’s social and environmental programmes will be incremental as consultants and contractors meet their Covid-19 mitigation obligations and travel restrictions are lifted.” 

The diversion tunnels will take approximately 18 months to complete, from the contract start date. Building two tunnels will increase the capacity to carry floods and will provide flexibility to work in one tunnel while the river flows in the other one. [Tunnel excavation work starts at Polihali Dam, The Reporter]

2. Local headlines

First Lady ‘Masekoalane Majoro donated food parcels to 100 members of the National Association of the Deaf Lesotho (NADL) in partnership with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) representative Omar Shehata.

Speaking at the handover ceremony, Majoro noted that she received permission from the Minister of Social Development Hon. ‘Matebatso Doti and Her Majesty Queen ‘Masenate Mohato Seeiso to carry out this noble initiative. She mentioned that she partnered with Shehata to donate food parcels to help in the fight against hunger as a result of the lockdown effects. She also vowed to work together with the community of disabled people to address their challenges.

NADL was established in February 1992 and promotes human rights and welfare of the deaf community of Lesotho. The organization’s director,Bongiwe Buzi, stated that the initiative by the First Lady and Shehata will come very handy to the people as they suffered a lot because of  the disease. [First Lady donates food parcels, Informative News

3. Global headlines

Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza, aged 55, has died after suffering a cardiac arrest, the government says.He was admitted to hospital on Saturday, June 6 2020, after feeling unwell. His condition improved but on Monday he had a cardiac arrest and efforts to revive him were unsuccessful, officials say.

After 15 years in power, Mr Nkurunziza was due to step down in August. In 2015, the announcement that he would run for a third term plunged the country into chaos. It sparked anger as some questioned the legality of a third-term bid. There was a failed coup attempt, hundreds of people died in clashes and tens of thousands fled the country. After a change in the constitution, he was able to run for a further term in last month’s election but he decided to retire and was to be known as the “supreme guide to patriotism”. He was also due to receive a $540,000 (£440,000) retirement pay-out and a luxury villa.

The government has announced seven days of national mourning. According to the constitution, if the head of state dies in office then the president of the national assembly, currently Pascal Nyabenda, should succeed him. The winner of May’s presidential election, Evariste Ndayishimiye, is due to be sworn in as president in August. [Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza dies of ‘cardiac arrest’ at 55, BBC News]

4. In lifestyle

In a bid to keep up with the rest of the world while still maintaining the Covid-19 regulations, The Entrepreneurs’ Network (TEN) has decided to take The Hook Up Dinner (THUD) online to enable entrepreneurs to pitch up their businesses.The Hook Up Dinner is a monthly meet-up for local entrepreneurs in Lesotho aimed at creating collaborative workspaces, and the dinner primarily focuses on pitching sessions and networking.

The Head of Marketing of TEN, Seheshe Hoohlo reported that the online hook-up aligns itself with the government of Lesotho’s National Strategic Development Plan II (NSDP II) which has ambitious policy targets for the transformation of the Lesotho economy from a consumer-driven economy to a producer-based economy led by the private sector.   

“The NSDP II focuses on manufacturing, agriculture and technology, hence our theme is in alignment with the nation’s developmental goals as far as the business community is concerned,” Hoohlo said, adding that “the programme is predominately for the youth because they have means to access the internet on a daily basis.” Hoohlo pointed out that the current global pandemic that has restricted the movement of goods has shown the need for self-reliance and sustainability in terms of food security as a nation. 

 “Failing to keep up will further widen the wealth gap and leave Lesotho as a perpetually dependent country. The youth, as future drivers of the economy who are also tech-savvy and energetic, must be the drivers of this change and shape the nature of its manifestation in the context of our country.” [TEN not resting on its laurels, The Reporter

5. What we’re reading

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many institutions to reconsider remote work. This article from our archives shows why this shift in work culture could have a positive side. [Remote Work and COVID-19: Is there a silver lining? Selibeng.com]


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.