Leading though a crisis will always be challenging. New Zealand Prime Minister has come out ahead of the pack during this time of crisis.
It was Sir Winston Churchill’s resolve, fortitude and nerve that ultimately led Britain to victory in the Second World War. While SA’s many Struggle heroes languished in prison or went into exile, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was one heroine who kept the fire of resistance burning, despite the brutality of the apartheid regime.
It’s often in times of great turmoil that the greatest leaders show their mettle. Today, leaders across the globe are battling to “flatten the curve” and protect their citizens from the deadly COVID-19 virus – and a global audience watches their every move as they either flourish or falter.
As the citizens of Cameroon wait desperately to hear from their President and Americans navigate the often garbled, contradictory or outright false information from their President, Jacinda Ardern, the 40th Prime Minister of New Zealand, has come out head and shoulders above the rest. She’s implemented one of the strongest lockdowns in her country.
On 25 March Arden announced that New Zealand would go into a four-week lockdown. All 5 million citizens were barred from leaving their homes except to buy essential items, work and exercise. At the time New Zealand, had 283 confirmed cases of Coronavirus.
The strategy seems to have worked, as according to a report by The Hill: “Less than two weeks in, the number of new Coronavirus cases per day has decreased two days in a row.”
At the time of writing, the country had 1 210 confirmed cases, 317 recoveries and a single death. This compares remarkably well with other countries like the USA, which had 431 838 confirmed cases and 14 768 deaths, and Germany with 113 296 confirmed cases and 2 349 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
A good leader is someone who leads by example and holds everyone accountable in equal measure. When New Zealand’s Health Minister Dr David Clark flouted one of the rules of the lockdown by going to the beach, Arden reacted by summarily “stripping him of his Associate Finance Minister portfolio and demoting him to the bottom of the Cabinet rankings”, reported The Guardian.
Leading is a highly pressured, stressful job – especially at a time when each decision affects the lives and livelihoods of millions of people. Failure to react quickly could lead to the loss of thousands of lives. On the other hand, a prolonged lockdown could decimate the economy.
It will take time until the full picture emerges, but Arden’s swift actions and bold, decisive leadership may have saved her country from a full-scale catastrophe.