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Citizens' Perception of Leadership during COVID-19 Times in Mombasa, Kenya

Abstract : Since the coronavirus outbreak in early 2020, political leadership has been put under test all over the world. Mombasa in Kenya is not an exception, a county where leadership involves controlling the spread of the coronavirus while simultaneously reviving the economy. Mombasa County, situated in the Indian Ocean coastal strip, is a historical trade hub with a Swahili coastal history. Mombasa, the second-largest city in Kenya, depends on the tourism sector, the port, the coastal crop production, and the mineral economy. The partial lockdown of the county, border closures and suspension of international flights had drastic economic consequences. In this context, the county government and public agencies faced the dilemma of making decisions on critical issues where scarce resources have to be prioritized. In these crisis circumstances, the disparities between demand and supply of public resources are much bigger than usual as the situation remains unclear and volatile, and the time to think, act, consult, and gain acceptance for political decisions is highly restricted.1 Decision-making skills during the pandemic entailed making hard decisions that involved value trade-offs and political risks as decisions were made along with the public health safety lens where the political risks entailed community dissent over the Mombasa County imposed mitigation measures. Leadership and decision-making ended up tackling issues that were not faced previously, challenging governance in an unknown COVID-19 reality. The pandemic ushers the broader effects on governance by overburdening the country and the county’s basic functions, with implications on sociopolitical communal cohesion, exacerbating corruption scandals, reinventing community activism and local leadership in communities. This article surveys this wide spectrum of effects on decision-making and leadership in Mombasa. It is written, taking into consideration the uncertain scope and severity of the crisis at a time—August 2020—when Kenya’s counties opened up their borders to relieve socio-economic stresses engulfing them. As the pandemic penetrates lower-income cohorts and the fragile local economic structures, it will likely have even more profound and unpredictable effects on the social welfare of the Kenyan populace.
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Contributor : Bastien Miraucourt <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, December 16, 2020 - 5:40:35 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, December 31, 2020 - 3:03:15 AM


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  • HAL Id : halshs-03078567, version 1



Fathima Azmiya Badurdeen. Citizens' Perception of Leadership during COVID-19 Times in Mombasa, Kenya. 2020, ⟨halshs-03078567⟩



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