Johannesburg, South Africa (SADC regional office)

Accra, Ghana (West African regional office)

Lagos, Nigeria

Harare, Zimbabwe

Programmes: Natural Resources

Programmes: Child Development and Youth Formation

Programmes: Local Governance and Grassroots Democracy



MAY 2020

The likely impact of COVID-19 on the extractive industries and its governance implications

COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). Global policy responses have shut down economic activity in attempts to flatten the curve – to prevent a stiletto-type impact on the capacity of healthcare systems to provide care for COVID-affected patients. Recent projections from the Asian Development Bank suggest that resultant global economic losses could amount to between $5.8tn and $8.8tn (Asian Development Bank 2020). African countries appeared, initially, to be particularly susceptible to the negative social and economic consequences unleashed by COVID-19 (The Economist 2020).

However, the demographic profile of many developing countries, not only in Africa, entails a ‘youth bulge’, and the elderly – most susceptible to contracting severe forms of the virus – tend to live at home rather than in concentrated spatial locations (Cash and Patel 2020). Though a lack of data and testing capacity is a governance concern throughout the continent, African countries thus far have relatively low numbers of recorded infections. Nonetheless, the global figures make for gloomy reading. Total cases at the time of writing stand at 5,462,447; recorded deaths amount to 344,503 (Johns Hopkins University 2020).

A looming governance question is how countries will respond to the economic contraction and address looming fiscal deficits in the wake of vastly reduced tax bases (Roubini 2020). For many African countries, dependent on natural resources for exports and foreign exchange revenue, economic recession will have a devastating effect on livelihoods. The World Bank estimates that, globally, 49 million more people will be pushed into ‘extreme poverty’, with sub-Saharan Africa likely to suffer disproportionately (Gerzon Mahler et al. 2020). Extractive industries are particularly susceptible to the worst impacts of the economic downturn as they are capital-intensive businesses deeply connected to global supply chains. Find out more here: Extractive Industries and Governance Implications Document

Africa Day 2020: A unique opportunity for reflection 

Covid-19 has taken the world by storm. It has exposed deep fragilities in our global systems. Our economic systems, first and foremost, clearly require deep reform. Failing to properly account for ecological degradation has unleashed climate change and viral dark matter, both of which have exacerbated vulnerabilities among the worst off. Ecological economists have been raising the red flag on this front since the late 1960s at least. If Covid-19 is not a catalyst for designing and implementing new economic models that help us to arrive at a more safe and just space in our delicate web of planetary boundaries, it is hard to imagine what could be. Our next edition of Africa in Fact deals with this very issue.

This Africa Day, journey with Good Governance Africa as it reflects on how the Coronavirus pandemic has swept through African nations where, despite technological and capacity deficiencies, we’ve found ways and means of addressing health disasters, with Ghana and Senegal leading the way in demonstrating innovative, professional responses. Read more in ‘Africa Day 2020: A unique opportunity for reflection’ available here: Africa Day 2020 





MAY 2020


Reflections from GGA’s Programme on Ethics, Culture and Spirituality

Blessed are the peacemakers and sustainers of life

When we set out on our journey to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Kasturba and Mohandas Gandhi in October 2019, the world was a very different place. The ashram in Phoenix, Durban, where the Gandhi family lived, was surrounded by the hustle and bustle of colourful daily life emanating from the informal settlement now surrounding it.

My guess is that Ba and Bapu would be pleased to know that their legacy continues to provide for this local community in terms of care, schooling, computer literacy and social outreach. True to the title Mahatma (Sanskrit for great soul), first ascribed to Gandhiji by the poet Rabindranath Tagore, the Gandhis as prototypical satyagrahis or soldiers of peace would surely take delight in knowing that their animus continues to permeate the air of those people living most on the margins of society, the so-called “untouchables”. But this begs the question, who are the untouchables today?

The outbreak of the Coronavirus disease in Wuhan, China, in late 2019, has changed everything. In some sense, we are all untouchable now. I’m writing this from lockdown, in isolation, along with 55 million other South Africans and hundreds of millions others confined around the world. We are masked and gloved, and exceptionally hesitant to share contact with anyone, especially with family and friends. Taken at face value, this seems to be the wrong way around, counterintuitive and highly abnormal, but this avoidance is undertaken mainly to protect our loved ones from the unknown: whether we have the virus or not and to stop transmission to them. Read more here: Gandhi Now, COVID-19 Document



MAY 2020


Recommendations on child and youth advocacy, ECD centres and the implementation of the proposed Department of Basic Education Response Document

 On 19 March, 2020 classrooms and learning environments across South Africa closed their doors in an attempt to keep the Coronavirus disease at bay. At midnight of 26 March, the entire country was placed under lockdown in an effort to flatten the curve of infections. Initially, it was planned that schools would resume on 18 April, which would have resulted in an extended holiday and two weeks to catch up – but the virus has proved more taxing than initially thought. The lockdown has been extended and now in mid-May, a month later, there is still uncertainty. The pandemic is challenging the education sector with a simple, yet pressing question: “what now?”

At the outset, the pandemic has revealed just how far-off many countries in the region are from realising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations to address global challenges. The pandemic has had both a direct and indirect impact on child and youth access to quality education, and it serves to challenge their health, current development efforts to address high youth unemployment rates, and their social protection (UN Sustainable Goals/2030). The following serves as a tool for policy development to assist in a response. The South African Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, and Blade Nzimande, the Minister of Higher Education, have been grappling with how to phase back learner attendance and “save the academic year”.

It is clear that doing nothing about this pandemic is not an option for government and the private sector alike. To quote Hubert Mweli, Director-General of the Department of Basic Education, during a briefing on the way forward for schools on 29 April, 2020, “We die from the virus or we die from poverty and hunger.” Mweli’s statement clearly indicates that South Africa and the wellbeing of its citizens is not being taken lightly. International experience has taught us a great deal. South Africa is in the more fortunate position of being able to learn from other countries, yet the national context is not that simple; South Africa – with nine provinces, 11 official languages, 12,408,755 learners with a wide variety of backgrounds and learning abilities, 24, 998 schools (excluding informal ECD centres and private home-schooling clusters) and 407,000 educators spread across rural, peri-urban and urban areas, and the biggest wealth gap globally between rich and poor – faces its challenges. Every country is unique and needs a contextually relevant and flexible strategy for a COVID-19 response in our schools (National Development Plan 2030).

A phased approach to learners returning to schools seems like the most viable option. This document explains the points the Department of Basic Education (DBE) has addressed in their COVID-19 development plan draft, released on 29 April, 2020, with added input and suggestions from GGA to consider for education development and youth formation. Read more here: Department of Basic Education Response Document



March 27 2020: A soldier checks the permit of a man making his way to work in Alexandra, Johannesburg, where military personnel are enforcing the lockdown announced by the president. PHOTO: THAPELO MOREBUDI/SUNDAY TIMES

MAY 2020


Recommendations to the South African Police Service and South African National Defence Force during the COVID-19 deployment

On 5 March, 2020, the Minister of Health, Zweli Mkhize, announced the first confirmed case of coronavirus in South Africa. On 15 March, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a National State of Disaster and announced a series of immediate measures to mitigate the further spread of the virus, including strict travel restrictions and the closure of nonessential industries, schools and universities. Just over a week later, on 23 March, the president announced that the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) had decided on a national 21-day lockdown, which was enacted in terms of the Disaster Management Act. The lockdown was subsequently extended to 30 April.

To assist South African Police Service (SAPS) members with implementation of lockdown restrictions, maintain law and order, support other state departments, and control the border in line with the Disaster Management Amendment Act (2015), 2,820 members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) were deployed across nine provinces. On 21 April, citing the continued spread of the COVID-19 virus, President Ramaphosa announced the deployment of an additional 73,180 members of the SANDF, consisting of the Regular Force, Reserve Force, and Auxiliary Force. The revised expenditure incurred for the employment of SANDF members was set at R4,590,393,00.1 For many disadvantaged communities, law enforcement officers are often their first point of contact with the state and therefore they can play an outsized role in determining citizen trust in government. In the current South African context, the conduct of both the SAPS and SANDF will go a long way in determining citizens’ cooperation and compliance with government regulations pertaining to COVID-19.

Maintaining law and order during a pandemic is also vital to ensuring public health policies can be effectively implemented to curb the spread of the virus. In recent weeks, there have been concerning reports and videos circulated relating to a number of deaths, harassment and alleged human rights violations by the security forces, especially in the townships. Encouragingly, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has come out strongly to caution members of the SANDF against their heavy-handedness during the lockdown, going so far as to say that they should refrain from using any kind of force – even if they are provoked. Similarly, President Ramaphosa, in a recent public address stated that: “This is not a moment for skop (kick) and donner (beat). This is a moment to be supportive to our people. When they see you patrol with your guns, they will be fearful but make sure that when they see you they see [the] kindness of the state of South Africa. They should even get to a point where they may want to give you roses” (Madisa, 2020).

Drawing on GGA’s research and programming experience with social cohesion initiatives, and in support of the minister of defence and the president’s emphasis on building community trust and collaboration to best implement COVID-19 related restrictions and measures, this brief aims to provide policy recommendations from a good governance perspective demonstrating how the SAPS and SANDF could be better or best deployed on such a mercy mission in grassroots communities. These recommendations are in line with the United Nation’s recent emphasis for the need to centre human rights in state responses to COVID-19 to achieve better outcomes in beating the pandemic, ensuring healthcare for everyone, and preserving human dignity (United Nations, 2020). Additionally, in line with the president’s call for an extended period of deployment, looking forward, we have identified potential areas of concern, which may lead to political instability exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis.

These are issues policymakers should be made aware of when formulating future strategies to address the consequences of the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic requires South Africans to work collectively to address a common enemy, which has a negative impact on the safety and wellbeing of all citizens. The crisis also lays bare some of the glaring social and economic inequalities often overlooked in “peace times”. This should, therefore, also be seen as an opportunity to consider community resilience and forge new relationships across race, class, and gender to bring about and promote a more equitable and just society. Read more here: Patrolling During A Pandemic Doc




APRIL 2020

Establishing a risk profile of socio-economic vulnerability in South Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic using GGA survey data (2017-2019)

To assist with the emergency response to COVID-19, Good Governance Africa (GGA) has compiled a socio-economic profile of vulnerability of the average South African citizen encountered in our work, based on aggregated data from research that we have undertaken across nine municipalities in five of South Africa’s provinces over the past three years. The aim is to assist government, the private sector and civil society in formulating the best possible socio-economic relief for those whose livelihoods will be most impacted by the lockdown and afterwards. Since the South African government announced the extension of the lockdown, which was deemed necessary to contain the spread of the disease, identify hotspots and “get ahead of the curve”, the economic consequences for all, but particularly the country’s poorest, have become clear.The lived reality of many South Africans who reside in informal settlements means that they are unable to isolate and adhere to quarantine measures. Also, small businesses and informal traders will be unable to operate as they did before the lockdown.

The government has announced an extensive programme of fiscal relief to compensate businesses and individuals for loss of revenue and income over this period and beyond. However, the Department of Small Business Development has said that informal traders would only qualify for relief if they registered with the department and the businesses must be South African-owned. This means that some three million informal workers are likely to fall through the net. As we resume economic activity, there is much uncertainty and fear. Like many African countries, and unlike countries such as Italy hit hard by COVID-19, South Africa has a youthful population. GGA’s research reveals high unemployment across the 18-39 age group, with 18-29-year-olds likely to be dependent on their parents and the elderly for support. Self-employment is high among the middle-age groups. Those individuals are particularly vulnerable to the socio-economic effects of the pandemic because they are not allowed to trade during the lockdown. Women, in particular, are at heightened risk.

Our research suggests that young to middle-aged individuals, especially females, seem to be most at risk of the economic shocks caused by the lockdown and will likely be the first to feel the future impact of the pandemic on the country’s economy. The overwhelming majority of our sample lives on an income of less than R2,299 a month, many of whom are self-employed and unable to operate under the strict lockdown measures. Income grants among the sample are not high, thus many of the participants are not receiving wages if they are unable to work. It is evident from our research that immediate and ongoing support must be provided to those whose livelihoods have been decimated, but who are not recognised in the “formal economy” sector or who fall through the safety net of social grants. In solidarity with the country, GGA is ready, able and willing to offer pro bono support to government, the private sector and civic organisations in this critical “whole of society” response. Read more here: COVID -19 GGA Outcome Doc


What is Good Governance Africa?

Good Governance Africa is a research and advocacy non-profit organisation with centres across Africa focused solely on improving governance across the continent.

GGA engages in applied research and stimulates critical debate. All our work is based on exploring and advancing the key governance principles of democracy, accountability and transparency, and combining these with upholding the rule of law and respecting human, civil and property rights.

Statement on Sustainability

For a brief moment in time, the world may take some time to reflect on the way in which the ecological systems that sustain us are under threat. Perhaps an inadvertent blessing of Covid-19, too, is that it has exposed deep fragilities in our global systems. Our economic systems, first and foremost, clearly require deep reform. Failing to properly account for ecological degradation has unleashed climate change and viral dark matter, both of which have exacerbated vulnerabilities among the worst off. Ecological economists have been raising the red flag on this front for decades. 

As we know, human beings are at risk of overstepping several planetary boundaries. These boundaries indicate the limits of what the planet can absorb in terms of anthropogenic impacts. They also interact in sensitive ways, generating risks that overstepping any one boundary may have domino effects on the others, precipitating ecological collapse. Because of these anthropogenic impacts, we are now living through the sixth extinction, compounded by climate change. Radical biodiversity preservation is now a non-negotiable global imperative that will require extensive collective action. 

Realising this collective action, however, requires an acknowledgement that humanity has created this diverse set of “wicked’ problems by treating the natural environment as if it is a free good in our economic models. In other words, ignoring the basic laws of thermodynamics has resulted in economic policies that pursue growth in production and consumption without recognising that there are limits to how much growth the planet can handle. It is therefore imperative that we transform our economic models to recognise that no economy is even possible without sustainable ecological foundations.

If Covid-19 is not a catalyst for designing and implementing new economic models that help us to arrive at a more safe and just space in our delicate web of planetary boundaries, it is hard to imagine what could be. Our next edition of Africa in Factto be published on 1 July, deals with this very issue and we encourage you to keep an eye out for it!   

Centres and coverage

GGA Operational Centres:

Johannesburg, South Africa
(SADC regional office)
Accra, Ghana
(West African regional office)

Harare, Zimbabwe


Lagos, Nigeria

West Africa
(Francophone Centre)
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
(AU/East Africa region)
(SADC/East Africa region)

Democratic Republic of Congo
(SADC/Francophone region)

(West Africa/Francophone region)


Good Governance Africa SADC seeks to build a bridge between government and the private sector in the African countries we work in, while striving to strengthen civil society and promote grassroots democracy.

GGA Nigeria

The primary objective of GGA-Nigeria is to contribute to good governance, through research, policy engagement and other such activities that help promote sustainable socio-economic development in Africa’s largest economy and most populous country.

GGA West Africa

The centre, independently, without any political manipulation carries out its mandate through academically based research and facts-based advocacy campaigns which improve governments’ performance within the sub-region by strengthening institutions and building consensus through capacity building, sensitization programmes and orientation of the citizenry on best governance practices.

GGA is a proud content partner with the Africa Portal, a research repository and an expert analysis hub on African affairs.

GGA is a proud member of the Resolve Network.

The RESOLVE Network is a global consortium of researchers, research organizations, policymakers and practitioners committed to empirically driven, locally defined research on the drivers of violent extremism and sources of community resilience. International stakeholders established RESOLVE to generate, facilitate, aggregate, and synthesize methodologically sound, locally informed research on the dynamics of violent extremism.

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