The Importance of Youth Leadership During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Article and photo supplied by Mr Xolani Mzileni, President of Industrial Engineering and Operations Management (IEOM ) UJ, Co-Vice President of Golden Key International Honour Society: UJ Chapter and Managing Partner of South African Renewers of Hope (SARH)

As South Africa we are very affected by the spread of Covid-19 just like every other country globally. Our economy is struggling, most businesses are not operating, schools are closed, and e-learning is introduced, our health facilities are not enough to handle the outbreak, with unemployment rate at 29.4%. These are some of the problems that we face as a country and we need young leaders to take charge and move forward. It is very important that we educate ourselves about Covid-19 so that we can share with other people who are misinformed about the pandemic and its seriousness.

To achieve this, we need to do research using reliable sources like journals, conference articles, WHO, government websites and other verified sources. With all the trials we are facing, as youth we need to also think about strategies, plans, collaborations and skills that are imperative to recover our economy and help South Africa to grow again. As youth leaders we need to educate ourselves and also go to learn from other countries then bring back the knowledge and technology to South Africa. It’s also vital that as young leaders we understand that we can’t always do everything on our own, we need to work together during this period and moving forward.

To be effective youth leaders we need to develop certain qualities such as global thinking. Today we are more connected than all the previous generations. We have technology and social medial to communicate and be instantly informed what’s happening international. We also need to understand international relations and governance policies in order to position South Africa in a strategic way during Covid-19 and to the future. To be impactful young leaders we need to have shared leadership, be creative and innovative thinkers, complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses. With Covid-19 bringing nations together in search for solutions, it is imperative that as young people we appreciate global diversity for us to be global players during the development of Covid-19 solutions.

Everyone is a leader and a follower, as youth we have the ability to take the lead and play a role in building the future that we need. It is always said that the future belongs to the youth and younger generations, this is true up to some extent because the future belongs to those who take it, so we need to take the future into our hands without violence, and complying to government national lockdown rules. We as young people, we believe in a brighter future for South Africa, this means we need to unit and build the future on our own.

Let us use this time staying indoor to develop ourselves. As young leaders let us not use social media to spread fake news. Let’s use social media to effectively help each other and our communities through info sharing. We can use social media to help and share notes with our friends and classmates who don’t have access to computers, we can run online fundraising campaigns to donate essentials like food packs, sanitizers, gloves, masks, even online debates about Covid-19 to share information and positively impact one another. We can fund raise to buy computer for students who don’t have, there is always something that we can do as youth leaders.

As young leaders, we are never too young to do what we actually believe in, let us take initiative and help our government during this challenging time. Let us focus on rebuilding our economy and coming with solutions that we need in this country. With Covid-19 not being the first pandemic to hit the world, this one will pass too. Young people on the previous pandemics played their role, this is our turn and let’s take leadership and be responsible. 

Sandile Shabangu

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