Poor communication costs South African businesses billions of rands every year. In times of uncertainty and fear, as is common in public health outbreaks such as the COVID-19 pandemic, information obtained through effective communication remains a key tool for countries.

These were the sentiments of the various African communicators during a webinar hosted by Government Communications and Information System (GCIS) Director- General, Phumla Williams, on Monday. The webinar brought together various African communicators from across the continent to discuss some of the best practices for effective communication that empowers the ordinary citizen during epidemics, with a specific focus on the role played by the media. The webinar comes as countries all over the world continue to deal with the blows of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the majority of the continent’s 1 187 937 Coronavirus cases found in South Africa, which has 611 450 cases recorded.

Highlighting some of the lessons learned during the pandemic (2020-2022), Williams said key to South Africa’s strategy to combat the virus is the communication adopted by government, with the backing support of the media.

“At the start of the outbreak, the Health Department led the communication. A strategy was adopted to maximise communication, with the GCIS leading communications and the Health Department signing off on the information.

“Media in this country went beyond the call in ensuring that information is available to the public. To date, the last research report received noted that 90% of South Africans know what is expected of them regarding COVID-19 but there are challenges in observing the health protocols,” Williams said.

Among the speakers at the webinar was African Union spokesperson, Ebba Kalondo, who spoke glowingly about Africa’s preparedness for public health emergencies such as COVID-19, based on previous outbreaks. “Many countries are only learning about epidemics and pandemics but Africa has had extremely meaningful lessons from epidemics, such as the outbreaks of Yellow fever, Zika virus, cholera and Ebola. “What the African Union learned from the Ebola outbreak is that they cannot be unprepared and thus set up the African Centre for Disease Control (ACDC) to deal with public health emergencies and threats. One of the biggest lessons the CDC learned, which is being implemented, is collaborate and communicate,” said Kalondo.

Armed with lessons from previous outbreaks, Kalondo said one thing that is clear is that communication during a pandemic is not the same as communication in normal times. “People don’t take in information the same way when they are panicked or fearful. What pandemics also do is bring existing inequalities to the fore. Communication or engagement during a pandemic cannot be led by politics. It has to be science.” While Kalondo punted the importance of effective communication and engagement with communities, she cautioned communicators from selling pipe dreams. “During a pandemic, people need to be reassured but not overly reassured because you cannot promise when things are ever-changing,” she said.

Question 1 [25 marks]
Taking the challenges in the case above, identify a South African organisation and explain ways on how you intent to improve its communication during a crisis, for greater goal achievement? Not more than two pages!

Question 2 [25 marks]
Use a conflict situation in South Africa which occurred in the last 10 years and apply all the strategies to deal with such conflict and clearly indicate the outcome? Not more than three pages!

Answers to Above Questions

Answer 1: Communication management is highly essential for businesses because it helps them convey the useful information to the intended audience on time. The role and implication of effective communication increases especially during the situation of pandemic, as witnessed during covid 19. Communication has proved to be an essential tool in the hands of businesses in running their business properly during the pandemic time. In order to evaluate the effectiveness of communication, the South African organisation selected is South African Airways. The travel industry is highly affected by Covid 19, and communication has a significant role to play in this industry in allowing people to utilise airlines for their travel purposes. The ways in which I would have improved the communication of the selected organisation during crisis time includes ……


Get completed answers on above questions on communication management from the experts of Student Life Saviour South Africa.

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