MASERU – Despite Lesotho not yet having recorded any deaths due to COVID-19, global economic pressures as a result of the pandemic will dampen the country’s economic outlook. Basotho see the country’s economy deteriorating and heading in the wrong direction, according to a newly released Lesotho Afrobarometer 2020 survey.
The portion of Basotho that show lack of confidence in the country’s economy has doubled since the 2017 survey. However, the majority of citizens are optimistic that things will improve in the coming year. Project Manager at Advision Lesotho Libuseng Malephane said the data was collected in February and March 2020 just as African countries began reporting their first cases of the coronavirus. She said more than eight in ten Basotho (82%) said the country is going in the ‘wrong direction’, a 40 percentage point increase compared to 2017.
The survey shows (88%) of peri-urban and urban residents, (86%) of opposition party supporters and (70%) of citizens with no formal education are not happy with the direction the country is taking while (77%) of the youngest respondents were somewhat less negative in their assessments. “About three quarters (74%) of Basotho rated the country’s economic condition as fairly bad, or very bad, up from 60% from 2014. Almost as many (70%) described their personal living conditions as bad. “Almost two thirds (63%) of respondents said the economic conditions had gotten worse or much worse over the preceding 12 months, an increase of from 36% in 2017,” reads the survey.
The survey, however, shows that only one in five Basotho (21%) expect things to get worse over the coming year, while a majority (69%) of the population expressed optimism that economic conditions would improve. The survey further reveals nearly nine in 10 respondents rated the government handling of the economy (87%) and improving living standards of the poor (86%) as fairly bad or very bad, noting that the worst rating however was on job creation (94%).
Afrobarometer is a Pan-African, non-partisan survey network that provides reliable data on African experiences and evaluations of democracy, governance, and quality of life. Seven rounds of surveys were completed in up to 38 countries between 1999 and 2018. Round 8 surveys are planned in at least 35 countries in 2019/2020. Afrobarometer conducts face-to-face interviews in the language of the respondents’ choice with nationally representative samples. The Afrobarometer team in Lesotho, led by Advision Lesotho interviewed 1 200 adult Basotho in February and March 2020.