South Africa: #Capewatergate - Leadership in Moments of Crisis - How Pivot Issues Get Neglected

Albertina, 10, scoops water from a hole dug in the dry Lurio riverbed, in M’mele village in Mozambique.
opinion

The crisis, irrespective of how it will unfold, is likely to make Cape Town more drought-resilient in the medium and long term. This is the good news.

The philosopher William James once wrote that habit is an "enormous fly-wheel of society", by which he meant that routine gives certainty and predictability without which normal society cannot function.

Crises often force us to break from these habits and create opportunity for unconventional approaches to solving new challenges.

It is with this in mind that there is truth in the oft repeated cliché that a good crisis is not to be missed but used in moments of pathos. But a crisis if mishandled can show up poor leadership, fractures in authority and institutions that take away our illusions of certainty.

Take for example the water crisis in Cape Town. It may be the first city in the world to have ignored all the warnings of climate change (some of these warnings were sounded out loud by scientists in 1990). If not ignored then left for too late.

Cape Town now faces Day Zero. You may ask why such a belated response.

Climate change is often perceived as a long distance problem that...

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