ABC special conference back on

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. . . as Majoro lifts Covid-19 restrictions

Limpho Sello

PRIME Minister Moeketsi Majoro has lifted the Covid-19 restrictions, allowing the full-scale resumption of economic, social and political activities in the country.

The lifting of the restrictions on Tuesday came at an opportune time for the premier’s All Basotho Convention (ABC), whose weekend special conference to elect a new leader, had been banned by the police.

In banning the conference, Maseru District Commander, Senior Superintendent Rantoane Motsoetla, had cited the Public Health Covid-19 Regulations No.119 of 2021 which prohibited political parties from holding conferences which lasted over three hours.

Unhappy with the ban, the ABC had on Monday petitioned the High Court to reverse the police decision. The case did not proceed yesterday after it was rendered moot by Dr Majoro’s Tuesday announcement. ABC spokesperson, Montoeli Masoetsa, said the police had since granted them permission to proceed with the conference.

Ironically, some senior ABC leaders had accused Dr Majoro of forcing the police’s hand to avoid what they predicted would be an “embarrassing and crushing defeat” at the hands of former cabinet minister, Nkaku Kabi. They alleged that a “fearful and desperate” Dr Majoro forced the police’s hand upon realising that he had no significant support in any of the party’s constituency committees.  They rushed to court only to withdraw the case after Dr Majoro pulled the rug from beneath their feet by unexpectedly scrapping the Covid restrictions.

The conference will now go ahead at Lesotho High School beginning tomorrow. In the contest to succeed ABC leader and former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, Dr Majoro will battle it out with Mr Kabi, chairperson Samuel Rapapa and former secretary general, Samonyane Ntsekele.

In his televised address on the Covid-19 situation on Tuesday, Dr Majoro said the government had resolved to relax the restrictions because infections had been brought under control due to the sterling work of the national Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC).

He said the rate of new infections had dropped, Covid-19 related hospitalisations and deaths had also declined. The country is now in a “new adjusted Blue colour code stage” where various activities are permitted.

“In the adjusted blue colour code stage, the 12 midnight to 4 am curfew has been totally suspended with restaurants, liquor stores, night clubs, gambling facilities allowed to operate while observing Covid-19 protocols at all times,” Dr Majoro said.

“Political gatherings in their different forms are allowed to resume without any time restrictions.

“Initiation schools have also been allowed to open and churches are now allowed to hold night prayers,” Dr Majoro said.

There had been fears that the highly contagious Omicron variant, first detected in South Africa and Botswana in November 2021, would lead to a surge in infections and deaths in Lesotho.

But the situation has been largely contained through the implementation of Covid-19 protocols including increased testing, restrictions on public gatherings and the stepping up of the mass vaccination campaign.

According to the latest NACOSEC statistics, Lesotho had by yesterday recorded a cumulative 32 049 infections and 690 deaths.

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