Corona virus: Sifting the chaff from the wheat in leadership

In times of trouble this is when we see true leadership at local, community, national, regional and international level. The article this week is looking at what is happening in different parts of the world and how our leaders and communities are responding.

Caught unaware

We were all unprepared for the corona virus. When it was first reported in China it was viewed as a Chinese virus by some and most of us thought it was going to end in China.  The fact that little or no information was coming out of China didn’t help at all in curbing infection.

Time was wasted throwing accusations, but there is no escape as we are forced to pull together, share information and try to get an upper hand on the corona virus pandemic.

The scale of the crisis is bigger than any government could have planned for.


Corona virus is attacking trade and commerce and our way of life

We live in a world where it has become easier for goods and services to move from place to people, humans included. Movement between cities and place has exacerbated infection.

Those against globalisation may be pleased to see cottage industries blooming.

The travel industry has been hit hard. Airports have become parking grounds for planes that are not going anywhere. The penny has dropped for most travelers that the only way to stop corona virus is staying put.

Airlines have cancelled international flights and there is a danger of getting stranded in a foreign country. Embassies too in some countries hard hit by lock downs had to close. Therefore travel is not an option.

We have seen Images of stranded passengers on cruise ships wanting to come home and stuck for weeks. Luckily, passengers from wealthier countries, governments like UK, US managed to send empty planes to pick their people and bring them home. If you are coming from a poor country think first before you travel.

Heroes and heroines

Dr Li Wenliang, one of the first medical practitioners in China to come face to face with corona virus has been seen by many as a hero. Chinese police said Dr Li was spreading rumours when he tried to alert the world about corona virus. He managed to advice fellow health workers to be careful, to wear protective clothing when dealing with patients with SARS like symptoms.

China declared an outbreak in late January. Dr Li, 34 died from corona virus in February 2020.

Italy has seen front line health workers battling to save lives. Media pictures coming out of Italy show the devastating toll on health workers and patients, this is a country with sound health facilities. But it has been challenging to stay on top, and many lives have been lost : with 74.386 cases and 7,503 deaths according to (

Corona death toll in Spain has overtaken China, (BBC, The Guardian).

Europe is experiencing the blunt side of the virus, with lock downs in France, Germany, UK, Italy and US just to mention a few.

UK health workers are still asking for more PPE(personal protective equipment).

I thank and appreciate health workers all over the world, paramedics, midwives, nurses, doctors, cleaners who keep our hospitals and care settings clean, drivers, carers, personal assistants, cooks and everyone in the community doing their  bit to keep us sane and safe. I am grateful to you all.

World leaders

How prepared are we in developing countries?

According to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres poor countries need $2bn of international humanitarian aid to tackle corona virus pandemic.

Corona virus has been reported in nearly every country. Its being reported that the next big spike will be in developing countries: Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America.

There are poor people who still cannot afford face masks, hand gel and sanitisers, let alone soap and water.

  • There are many dispersed people around the world.
  • war refugees and environmental refugees.
  • Poor shelter
  • Struggling economies.
  • Not enough testing done in developing countries
  • No access to testing kits and laboratories
  • Weak health care systems
  • Informal trading/ markets that challenges social distancing

Corona virus have been confirmed in North Africa, West Africa, Central Africa Southern Africa and East Africa / Horn of Africa.

South Africa

Elsewhere in South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa announced a nationwide lock-down with effect from midnight, 26 March 2020.

Most international flights from high risk areas were also suspended the previous week, those with visas to South Africa immediately cancelled with immediate effect.

India also announced a complete lock-down having had more than 500 confirmed cases of corona virus.


A young man, Zororo Makamba, lost his life to corona virus (Zimbabwe media).

Zororo, son of the prominent businessman James Makamba,  is seen by most Zimbabweans as coming from a privileged family.

He is said to have contracted corona virus from his recent travel to New York.

The Makamba family in recent media reports seem to blame the unpreparedness of the Zimbabwe government to deal with the virus.

In recent media reports the Makamba family have cited lack of ventilators, plugs, and despondent health workers to deal with patients at the government infectious disease Wilkins hospital in Harare.

What chance do most ordinary Zimbabweans have?

God knows what will happen to rest of the population.

How well prepared is Zimbabwe to deal with corona virus? God help us.

Private sector, this is an opportunity to help.


Kenya is spraying and disinfecting populated area, areas such as the Kibera settlement.

India:  With a population of over 1.3 billion, India announced total lock-down after rises in corona infection.

Corona virus has bee reported in nearly every country.


Communities are coming together in some areas, contributing to food banks, looking out for vulnerable neighbours, offering all sort of help.

There are people living from hand to mouth and need to go out and sell their wares, vegetables and so on to provide for their families, but remember: you are more helpful to your family alive than dead.

African leaders I urge you to get your priorities right. Instead of buying expensive cars, building yourselves castles and mansions, visiting posh expensive health facilities outside your borders when you are ill; instead use that money to improve basic health facilities in your countries, paying health workers and improving social welfare purse.

Being a civil servant is not a step to become rich but a servant to the people. How do you explain your riches and having surplus while you are leading people who can barely afford a single hot meal per day for their families? Who wants to lead such a people.

Charity begins at home.

This is an opportunity for us all to do the right thing. Provide good  leadership and make ourselves useful in every possible way.


Media organisations

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