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Ex-minister lashes at Premier

The former minister of Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation who also happens to be main opposition party Alliance of Democrats (AD) General Secretary Dr Mahali Phamotse, has come out guns-blazing and breathing fire over the government’s reprehensible approach to the Covid-19 pandemic.   

Phamotse criticised the Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro and his government for lacking plans after Covid-19 national lockdown enforced by the premier this Tuesday. She said the government must also cease being a copycat to the South African President.     

She further pointed out that the government is unable to control the pandemic as it has gone out of hand without also considering the lives of the citizens.

“Government has taken a serious and decisive action to close down the country in an attempt bring the situation under control. However, this is done without any consideration whatsoever, of how the people of Lesotho especially small business groupings and lowest minimum wage workers are going to survive. (street venders, taxi industry workers, factory workers, saloons, car washers, musicians, liquor sellers e.t.c) we are seeing many countries around the world entering a second lockdown. But these countries have clear economic recovery mitigation plans in place after their announcement of lockdown. The negative impact of lockdowns in such countries’ economy and people’s livelihoods is not as bad as ours in Lesotho. It is however true that though not so popular; lockdowns are often the last resort to preserve people’s lives,” she said.

“Lesotho is Lesotho. It is dealing with the pandemic under its own unique set of circumstances. It is not South Africa or a province of South Africa. We cannot be waiting for South Africa or the South African president to lead the way. He is advocating for South Africa and its needs. Dr Majoro should stop being a parrot of President Ramaphosa he needs to have the courage and the intelligence to deal with Lesotho and its needs,” she said.

She said the terrible death toll and the spread of Covid-19 which have run rampant have become too insurmountable for the premier and his government stating that Majoro refused to make money available for key interventions such as erecting temporary treatment facilities, purchasing testing equipment, purchasing personal protective equipment or purchasing ventilators and other equipment needed for treating critical patients during his tenure as Minister of Finance.

“The Alliance of Democrats (AD) notes with the deepest concern, the on-going and relentless spread of the Covid-19 infections within the borders of Lesotho and among the population of Basotho. We are above all else, shocked and saddened by the ever-increasing numbers of people, infected with the disease and the associated loss of lives. We pray for our countrymen and women and hope that God will deliver us from the throes of this pandemic.

“Now that we are clearly within the clutches of the second wave, it is clear to all of us that government’s strategy for dealing with the disease has failed. It is also plainly obvious that the different departments of government remain uncoordinated and have lost control of the situation. It is only though the heroic efforts of our doctors, nurses and health care workers if people are in any way getting meaningful assistance. We want to thank and salute those brave citizens who are at the frontline of fighting this disease.

“The blame for this abysmal situation must lie squarely at the feet of the Right Honourable the Prime Minster Dr Moeketsi Majoro. At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, he was Minister of Finance. Recommendations were made for various interventions totalling M700 million. None of that money was made available to the implementing ministries. He refused to make money available for key interventions such as erecting temporary treatment facilities, purchasing testing equipment, purchasing personal protective equipment or purchasing ventilators and other equipment needed for treating critical patients. He insisted that the then government should depend on foreign aid and private donations. Instead of focusing our national effort and national resources on fighting the pandemic, Dr Majoro shifted the focus onto domestic politics that engineered the fall of Dr Thabane.

“Upon taking the office of the Prime-Minister, he promised an improved Covid-19 response. The start was auspicious and many of us thought that improvements would be forthcoming. Instead a lack of financial support, infighting and a lack of policy coordination have rendered NACOSEC completely ineffective in the face of a raging pandemic. At this juncture who genuinely believes the figures published by NACOSEC? Those figures completely contradict the situation we see on the ground. Hospitals are full and are turning patients away. Mortuaries are full and are unable to take new bodies. Families are announcing the deaths of loved ones and having to bury them. The official story is of 5900 cases and 85 deaths. A simple extrapolation of the positive cases identified at border crossings will tell you that the official figure cannot be right. It is a gross underestimation. The significant increase in deaths recorded in the country during November and December tells you that something other than natural causes is driving that increase. Put most simply people are contracting the illness, are dying from it and the government lacks the capacity to properly diagnose,” she said.

“We are aware that in March/April 2020 then Ministers Joang Molapo and Tlohelang Aumane were tasked with giving political support to a process to develop a contact tracing system. Minister Molapo was responsible for bringing together the technical expertise while Minister Aumane was responsible for coordinating domestic and donor support. Key stakeholders in this process were Columbia University who are assisting the Ministry of Health with IT support and the technology partners Vodacom and Econet.

“This process was halted by minister Maseribane (Thesele) on the grounds that it falls within the mandate of his ministry. We are nine months down the line. We have no capacity to trace positive cases. We have no easily updateable capacity to identify clusters of the disease and implement localized interventions. Prime Minister Majoro needs to tell us why this is the case. “We as AD, demand an accounting on the issues we raised herein. Above all, we demand that the government takes decisive action to preserve Lesotho and its people in a way that considers the multifaceted unique problems of this country, not in a parotic manner to South Africa. AD rebukes the government to stop cheap finger pointing populist politics between ABC and DC, that are crippling service delivery and have put the lives of Basotho at the most dangerous life threatening situation in the history of this country. Now it is the time for action that will save lives,” she said.

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