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Lesotho opposition MPs baffled by no travel ban on high-risk COVID-19 countries

Tom Thabane declared a state of emergency on Wednesday but unlike his neighbours in the region, he was mum on countries like China, Italy, the UK and the US.

FILE: Prime Minister of Lesotho Thomas Thabane. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Lesotho opposition MPs said that they were baffled that Prime Minister Tom Thabane had not imposed any travel bans on coronavirus high-risk countries.

Thabane declared a state of emergency on Wednesday but unlike his neighbours in the region, he was mum on countries like China, Italy, the UK and the US.

Opposition MP Lekhetho Rakuoane said that the government was endangering lives by having double standards.

Rakuoane, the leader of opposition party Popular Front for Democracy, said that he was encouraged that government had finally spoken on coronavirus but he was surprised that nothing was said about travel from high-risk countries.

"Government is sending a wrong signal that there are countries that they don’t want to mention in terms of a travel ban. We are worried about the lack of forthrightness on the side government's strategy."

Rakuoane tried to table a COVID-19 discussion in the national assembly last week but the deputy speaker said it’s not yet an emergency.

Prime Minister Tom Thabane had now declared the emergency, saying that all arrivals would be quarantined for 14 days but Rakuoane was not convinced.

"That is a sad story as far as parliamentary scrutiny is concerned that’s what we were denied by our own presiding officers. We would have looked at the facilities, otherwise, the prime minister was supposed to have a cross-party task team, so we are not happy about whether we have enough facilities."

Other critics suspected that Thabane - who had a Chinese economic advisor and the government that had received grants from China to build parliament, the statehouse and other key buildings – was compromised.

Outside the mainly Chinese-run textile industry that employs 40,000 Basotho, government gave Chinese businessman Stone Shi the monopoly to export wool and mohair.

He had failed to pay farmers and single-handedly brought the once-lucrative industry to its knees, yet minister of finance Moeketsi Majoro announced in his budget speech that the government would bail him out, and pay 1,000 of those farmers.

To track the latest developments around the coronavirus both in South Africa and abroad, click on this live status report from Strategix.