COVID-19 Pandemic - The role of Local Government

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By Dr Modeni Mudzamba Michael Sibanda - UFH Senior Lecturer and Postgraduate Coordinator in the Department of Public Administration, Faculty of Management and Commerce. 

The Coronavirus (Covid-19) represents an unprecedented assault on global social and economic activity as we have ever known it. Since 31 December 2019 and as  at 19 May 2020, 4 766 468 cases of Covid-19 have been reported, including 318 201 deaths around the globe. Globally, local governments are at the core of the Covid-19 crisis.

This calls for national government, provincial and regional responses to Covid-19 to be matched with equal integrated planning and disaster mitigation responses at the local government level. Crises such as the Covid-19 highlight the role of local government as the coalface of policy delivery and impact. Whether local government works to ensure that services that keep communities functioning continue to be delivered to the best standards, or join partners from the third sector, local, national or global levels -  to address the impact of the outbreak of Covid-19  they remain better placed to respond innovatively to the pandemic, now and in a post- Covid-19 epoch.  

As the grassroots layer of government closest to communities, local government around the globe is better placed to continuously lead and innovate in response to Covid-19. However, this pandemic brings with it local governance, economic, financial and social shocks. As Covid-19 continues to spread with devastating consequences on local communities, local government remains at the forefront of combating the outbreak. Local government’s disaster preparedness, service delivery, infrastructure and human capital and resource capabilities and intergovernmental coordination, remain key to Covid-19 response and mitigation, as well as to contain the spread of the virus and to ensuring post- Covid-19 local government recovery, functionality and sustainability.

As a vital implementation vehicle of nation-wide measures, local government leverages on bottom-up, innovative and technological local governance responses and other means to sustain its unique proximity to citizens and local service delivery.

Dr Modeni Mudzamba Michael Sibanda, holds a Doctor of Administration (DAdmin) in Public Administration and Management from the University of the Free State. He specialises in local government. His research interests are in local government administration. He has published scholarly articles in several peer-reviewed Journals and is a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Local Government Research and Innovation (JOLGRI).