Friday, 12 June 2020

Pretoria: President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for a shared vision and strategy between South Africa and Lesotho to revive the economy in the aftermath of COVID-19.

“Clearly, COVID-19 is having quite a negative impact on many economies around the world and we are also going to be adversely affected, both Lesotho and South Africa.”

He said international financial institutions like the World Bank are predicting that both Lesotho and SA’s economies are going to shrink significantly.

“Therefore, it calls on us to come up with a clear vision, clear strategies of how we’re going to address our badly affected economy, in our case, which we share with Lesotho.”

President Ramaphosa and Lesotho’s Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro were addressing the media at Mahlamba Ndlopfu Presidential Guesthouse in Tshwane on Friday.

This was the Prime Minister Majoro’s first courtesy visit since his swearing on 20 May 2020, following the resignation of his predecessor, Thomas Thabane.

The two leaders discussed, among others, bilateral cooperation, and regional and continental issues of mutual interest amidst the fight against the Coronavirus global pandemic.

“This visit marks a very important milestone – the beginning of improving and deepening relations between South Africa and Lesotho at all levels that touch on the movement between South Africa and Lesotho and how we should find ways to support each other’s economy, particularly in relation to post COVID-19,” President Ramaphosa told the media.

He said it is important to look at how they are going to deal with the issue of unemployment.

The two leaders also spoke about restructuring of the economic landscape by sharing their plans and deepen economic integration.

The President said they are also looking at tackling the critical issues faced by the two nations, such as fighting cross border crimes and human trafficking.

“We’ll get our Ministers to begin the process of dealing with all these matters to prepare for a more formalised meeting between our two governments.”

Lesotho developments

The visit was also an opportunity for President Ramaphosa to be apprised on developments in the Mountain Kingdom.

“We’re also delighted to hear that stability has returned to Lesotho and that there’s a renewed commitment to embark on the reforms that we, as South Africa, have been a facilitator in,” the President said.

On the issue of movement of people, he said they need to come up with a better way to enable people, who are documented, to move with greater ease.

Prime Minister Majoro acknowledged that the two countries are linked.

“Both countries have a unique geographical situation, with Lesotho fully beating as a heart inside South Africa. It isn’t always a healthy heart and we can see blood running to the face of SA whenever we have issues.

“But uppermost in our minds, is that relations between Lesotho and South Africa must at all times be warm.”

He said it is for this reason they moved quickly to pay a visit to President Ramaphosa to begin their work to improve their relations.

The leaders also discussed COVID-related issues spanning beyond the medical and clinical fronts, including how to deal with the border control issues, which may tamper with efforts to control infections.

“We are going to address these issues,” Prime Minister Majoro said.

Lesotho has four COVID-19 cases, while SA had 58 568, as of Thursday.

The Prime Minister said both countries will also collaborate in making decisions that affect both countries.

Meanwhile, Majoro has promised that his government is also working on delivering services to citizens.