LESOTHO has comfortably surpassed the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s target for countries to have jabbed at least 10 percent of their people against Covid-19 by the end of September 2021.
In fact, the latest statistics provided by the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) indicate that the country had by yesterday vaccinated slightly over 18 percent of the country’s 2, 1 million people.
This has been achieved by introducing a mass vaccination programme in March this year. Last month, the government went a step further by taking the vaccines to the bus stops and market stalls to ensure that ordinary people like vendors and taxi drivers do not have to leave their work stations to get jabbed. The state has also partnered with churches to administer the vaccines at places of worship.
Despite the huge strides in meeting the WHO targets, the government remains concerned that not enough people are getting vaccinated as the statistics indicate that only 372 950 people have been jabbed even though the country has procured a total of 682 400 vaccines.
This means that slightly above half of those who could have been jabbed have bothered to get vaccinated.
As part of measures to deal with the apathy and ensure the country jabs enough people to achieve herd immunity, Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro recently said the government was considering introducing Covid-19 passports under which its various departments as well as private organisations will only provide services to people who have been fully vaccinated.
The passports have already sparked controversy around the world with many saying they violate human rights. Locally, analysts have also spoken about the need to tread carefully and widely consult to ensure broad consensus on the issue.
This week, the Lesotho Times visited Maseru, Berea and Butha-Buthe to find out what the public thinks about the planned introduction of the Covid-19 passports. Below are some of the views:
Tlali Matela, Berea
I feel the issue of Covid-19 passports must be thoroughly debated. This is a serious matter that involves human lives. Some people who took the vaccines spoke about the negative side-effects and that has contributed to the low uptake of the vaccines. It is therefore important that people are educated about the benefits of the vaccines to counter any misinformation. A lot of information campaigns were done to warn people about the virus and how to protect themselves. I believe equal efforts must be made to educate them about the benefits of the vaccine before the government even decides to introduce the Covid-19 passports.
Mamokete Mokolana, Maseru
I don’t support the introduction of the passports because I’m now being forced to vaccinate. If I don’t vaccinate, I automatically become socially and economically marginalised. My rights are being violated. Why should a Covid-19 passport have anything to do with me buying food at a supermarket or accessing services from the government?
Should I lose my job because I’m not vaccinated? Is there some sort of agenda in this? Where is my freedom in all this? It’s crazy. I understand the risks that come with not being vaccinated but this drama of the passports is really taking things a bit too far.
There is more to this this than simply protecting our health. I have never seen or heard about any pandemic which has caused as much controversy as this one. I don’t care if I sound ignorant or a conspiracy theorist. I just don’t support the introduction of these passports.
Dorcas Letuka, Maseru.
I support the introduction of the passports because they are for our own good.
We have been informed that the vaccines reduce the chances of critical illnesses and Covid-19 related deaths. No government would be cruel enough to kill its people by jabbing them. A large portion of the world’s population has already been vaccinated and they are doing just fine.
I, for one, have been vaccinated and I am as healthy as ever. Even if there were no plans to introduce the passports, all of us would still have to go and get vaccinated because the vaccines save lives.
When people are infected and die of Covid-19, the blame is heaped on the government for not caring. But when the government introduces measures like the vaccines to protect people, you still find some rejecting them. I support the vaccines and the passports.
Chale Zwane, Butha-Buthe
This is a move I would support because when the prime minister has spoken, we have to obey. Ntate Majoro set the standard for us when he got vaccinated. That is enough for us to follow suit and realise that Covid-19 vaccines are not at all deadly. People should therefore go and vaccinate so that they are not left out when the government eventually makes the possession of Covid-19 passports a requirement to access services. This is something that will be done for our own protection and I support the plans.
Josiase Matabane, Butha-Buthe
I have not yet been vaccinated but I will do so this month when I go for check up at the clinic. Although I have not been vaccinated, I support the government’s plan to introduce Covid-19 passports. We are governed our leaders and we must listen to those we have entrusted with power. Everyone must understand that vaccines are good and this is being done for our safety.
Manganeng Seliane, Butha-Buthe
I say the vaccine passports should be introduced as a pre-requisite for people to access services. People who choose not to get vaccinated because of their myths and misconceptions should not be allowed to put others’ lives at risk.
Sakia Leponesa, Butha-Buthe
Vaccines are good. I have been actively encouraging people in my community to get vaccinated and they are going to get jabbed in large numbers. This is for our own good and safety.
So, if the government finally introduces the Covid-19 passports, most of my people will be vaccinated anyway and they will not be forced to get jabbed. I advise people to willingly get vaccinated now because it is the right thing to do.
Motlatsi Jobo, Butha-Buthe
Indeed, people are going to feel like they are being forced if the Covid-19 passports are introduced before they have been vaccinated. However, I would advise that they get educated about the vaccines and get jabbed now to avoid challenges when the passports are eventually introduced. Those who are not vaccinated will feel like they are being discriminated for choosing not to get jabbed. I have been vaccinated and I won’t find it difficult to produce the documentation when it is needed.
Nthati Moorosi, Berea
I think the introduction of the passports would be an excellent move. We should all be vaccinated to control the spread of the virus.
This article was possible due to the support of the German federal foreign office and the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (IFA) Zivik funding programme. The views presented in this article do not represent the views of the German federal foreign office nor the IFA.