The coronavirus pandemic has tested the nature and effectiveness of governance systems within the Badisa group under exceptional conditions.
We have had to make on-the-spot decisions without any recipe to guide us. Ensuring consistent good governance in a complex and diverse organisation like ours is challenging under normal or stable conditions. Covid-19 challenged us in new ways, expecting us to perform key functions like taking decisive action, handling huge amounts of data, making critical decisions about resource allocations, and coordinating a coherent response to Covid-19 within the organisation. Essentially, Badisa’s good governance practices have been put to the test by our Covid-19 response.
We realised from the start that the absence of good practices to manage this pandemic would require a globally consolidated Covid-19 strategy, coherent implementation, and an extraordinary communication mechanism. Our aim was to preserve life and consolidate a “whole of Badisa” focus around this vision, and implement measures to contain the crisis without allowing it to spill over and overwhelm the Badisa programmes. In the process we realised that some unintended risks may occur, requiring inventiveness beyond our norms and standard operating procedures. However, it must be emphasised that it was exactly the investments that we have made over decades – namely to internalise transparent governance practices, non-negotiable accountability, efficient financial management, and the rule of law – that enabled such a coordinated response. Coupled with our shared value system, high levels of trust and ethical communication, this essentially enabled the Badisa group to act as a collective and to steer us towards a shared outcome.
Many unknowns remain and we will be confronted with numerous uncertainties and difficult policy decisions for years to come. We have also learnt valuable lessons. We have the knowledge, expertise and high levels of trust within the organisation to redefine Badisa’s relevance, viability and sustainability within a changed South Africa. Tragic as it may be, this crisis has also opened immense opportunities in terms of our interdependence and interconnectedness.