Stay vigilant

Stay vigilant

THE government’s decision to impose a three-week lockdown, which was the best way to contain the spread of the deadly Covid-19, has been a disaster for business.

The lockdown, while noble, has tragically begun to bite the very society it was meant to protect.
The result is that we are now expecting a carnage across all business sectors as companies shed jobs with others shutting their doors, never to open again.

Even when the lockdown is eventually lifted, on April 28 according to the latest government statement, things will never be the same again post-Covid-19.
Most companies, which were already battling to stay afloat, will struggle to get to levels of profitability. It may take these companies months, if not years to recover.

That is the reality of our times, wrought by a tiny yet stubborn virus that has disrupted and shaken the global economy to its foundation.
It is with this grim reality in mind that the government this week announced a Covid-19 Private Sector/Economic Relief Fund.

It is a novel idea that must be commended. We are aware of very few governments in Africa that have come up with such rescue packages for their own people.

While this is a brilliant idea, it remains very thin on detail as to how it will be implemented in practical terms.
How the rescue package will be applied could prove the difference between going under or staying afloat for most companies.

However, the frightening levels of bureaucracy in government do not bode well for the implementation of such a rescue package which will require lightning speed if it is to be of any use.

We also note the government’s commitment to pay about M1 billion it owes to private companies. That will go a long way in helping companies deal with the serious cash flow issues they are grappling with right now.
But it is not just the private sector that needs support.

We know that ours is a country with shocking levels of inequality. The majority of our people still cannot afford one decent meal in a day. They too will need support or they will starve.
The lockdown has already created a sense of siege among the people. Those in the informal economy, who rely on their daily sales for a meal, are already in serious trouble.

Barricaded in their houses with nothing to eat, these people might feel they have nothing to lose.
That in our opinion poses a very grave national security threat.
The government must therefore find ways of releasing this pressure or else it might trigger major social upheaval.

Lesotho remains one of the very few countries in Africa that have remained untouched by the Covid-19 pandemic.
That will require that we maintain vigilance. This is no time to relax. We must follow the experts’ recommendations on basic hygiene and social distancing.

The story of Ecuador, which has been battling to bury its dead as bodies pile up in morgues, must serve as a grim reminder of what could happen to Lesotho when a nation’s health delivery system is overrun by this unseen enemy.

The United States, with all its sophistication as a global power, has struggled to deal with the pandemic as it continues to mow down people every day.
We can only shudder to think what would happen to “little Lesotho”, with its creaky health delivery system, were this disease to hit this country. That is why we need to stay vigilant.

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