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The Political Economy of COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons Learned from the Responses of Local Government in Sub-Saharan Africa


Year published: 2022
Categories: Book Chapter
URL Link: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-91112-6_5

Author / Authors:

  • Abraham R. Matamanda
  • Verna Nel
  • Nelson Chanza
  • Lucia Leboto-Khetsi
  • Fortune Mangara
  • Partson Paradza


First Online: 04 May 2022
Part of the Local and Urban Governance book series (LUG)


Pandemics occur in political spaces usually defined by contestations and conflicts. These conflicts influence governments’ responses to address pandemics. We argue that responses to curb COVID-19 are nested in politics best articulated through political economy theory as there are individuals who appear to advance their interests through decisions and strategies aimed at addressing the pandemic. Based on a desktop study grounded in a case study design, we explore the political economy of government strategies to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on socioeconomic development in sub-Saharan Africa, and particularly on local governments, drawing lessons from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and Lesotho. Emerging from the study are cases of corruption that involve state capture of donor funds characterized by national and local governments using the pandemic as a cash cow to attract funds from donors. Largely, the local governments have sanctioned the informal sector, which for long has been marginalized and criminalized; hence, the pandemic has been a good excuse to “eradicate” this sector. State violence towards certain groups of people has been noted under the guise of policing offenders contravening the imposed lockdown policies, while miscommunication and one-sided communication are also an inherent issue in managing the pandemic. Local governments have played a limited role in combating the pandemic as evident from their failure to address the socioeconomic needs of the poor, especially residents in informal settlements. We conclude that responses to pandemics should be informed by a human needs approach that recognizes human rights, especially for the marginal communities and individuals who tend to be side-lined despite their greater vulnerability.

Cite this chapter
Matamanda, A.R., Nel, V., Chanza, N., Leboto-Khetsi, L., Mangara, F., Paradza, P. (2022). The Political Economy of COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons Learned from the Responses of Local Government in Sub-Saharan Africa. In: Nunes Silva, C. (eds) Local Government and the COVID-19 Pandemic. Local and Urban Governance. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-91112-6_5


  • Book Chapter