The COVID-19 ”new normal”: Implications for public sector management and governance
Keywords:COVID-19 politics, Infodemic, Denialism
The unprecedented health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic require a paradigmatic shift in the way of doing government business. Sudden surges in demand for public services challenge public institutions to think outside the box to sustain their public service provision mandate. These challenges are occurring at a time when national fiscal reserves are precariously overstretched as governments across the global divide are still to fully recover from the expenditure obligations that were in icted by climate change disruptions. The study responds to these developments through case study reviews of the selected governments’ responses to COVID-19 pandemic in purposively sampled countries that include China, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The study departs from previous health-clinical-focused studies of COVID-19 by adopting a state-public administrationpolitico-centric analysis of COVID-19 mitigation processes. Interpretation of case study experiences is guided by the chaos theory. Case study results point to gaps in the way governments are adapting to the ‘new normal’ with the digitally displaced governments least positioned to cope with digital new work ethics. Infodemic and blame-game politics are emerging as major challenges restraining compliance with COVID-19 prevention initiatives at both the top leadership and citizen levels. To adapt to the dictates of the ‘new normal’, developing countries need to prioritise investments in technology, strengthen oversight over procurement and public nance management processes. Principled leadership; coherent policy and administrative direction; and exibility and agility within nation- states are critical in balanced decisions on national policy questions of what to prioritise rst between saving the economy (livelihoods) and public health (lives).