Covid-19 is meant to have changed everything. One thing it has not touched at all is this country’s obsession with “leadership”. Time and again we hear that to keep safe we must “obey the rules laid down by our president”. We are also often told how lucky we are that the pandemic came when Jacob Zuma is no longer president.

It is easy to see why people stress leadership in a week in which the US president suggested that bleach injections might enable people to fight off the disease. And why they prefer a leader who does not believe that taking a shower protects one against HIV. Nor is this the only country in which people place heads of government at the centre of action against the pandemic: many government heads have enjoyed a boost in the polls, even when they have not seemed that good at dealing with it...

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