Government must draw from society to deal with Covid-19, says leading Wits academic
Leaders will have to be a lot more creative and imaginative in solving complex challenges with limited resources, says Dr Mzukisi Qobo, the University of Witwatersrand's new head of the school of governance.
Qobo was previously an Associate professor of strategy and international business at Wits Business School.
He said the pandemic had cast a sharp spotlight on SA’s ugly reality, its socio-economic divides, and contrasts between poverty and affluence.
“On one hand it has awakened us to our shared humanity, and that irrespective of the station each of us occupy in life, we are vulnerable, we have fears, and we hold hopes that can be dimmed at a stroke.
“It has rudely reminded me of my privileged position in relation to the majority of South Africans,” he said.
Qobo believes the challenge is not only for government but also for society broadly – “especially those who are privileged as well as corporates to strive for a more meaningful and a bigger cause. [And] to equalise opportunities and expand the bounds of what is possible for many who are on the margins of society.”
On the South African government’s performance at the moment, Qobo said leaders would increasingly be drawn to transcend themselves and draw on the expertise and knowledge outside their comfort zones.
“Governments can no longer be the only answer to societal challenges; they will need to work closely with a variety of actors, including business leaders, civic leaders, community organisations and powerful individuals to augment resources and maximise the impact of public policy,” he said.
Qobo was appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa to serve on the presidential economic advisory council in 2019.