COVID-19's Impact on South Africa's Relations with Africa

COVID-19 once again proves the axiom that crises bring out the best – and worst – in us. The same can be said of South Africa’s leadership of the continent during this time. Where there has been strong political will and clear focus, South Africa has modelled collaborative effort, collective action and clear leadership. This has resulted in stunning responses by the continent to coordinate its efforts to address the immediate threat posed by the virus. Given the bleak economic forecast for the country, South Africa cannot afford fumbles that would result in it further losing its foothold. There has never been a more critical juncture for the democratic nation because if it fails, the effects are likely to last many years – if not generations to come. This will impact the twin imperatives to lead the continent and prevent growing instability at home along xenophobic/ethnic lines. The COVID-19 pandemic is also spawning political crises that the country, as chair of the AU, and as a leader on the continent, is obligated to address. Decisive leadership, reining in political elites who are abusing the pandemic to further their personal agendas at the expense of their people, is what the people of Africa need to help them get through these tough times.