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.

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...

See What Everyone is Watching

More From: Daily Maverick

Don't Miss

AllAfrica publishes around 700 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.