The onslaught of COVID-19 over the past year was extraordinary and unlike anything the world has ever seen.  Countries all over the globe undertook drastic measures to prioritise individual health and sustaining economic activity amidst the pandemic.

Different sectors of society such as governments, businesses, communities and civil society collaborated to combat the pandemic. As we look back and reflect, we see the importance of responsible citizenship as arguably one of the cornerstones of how people survived the pandemic.

Responsible citizenship is often viewed within the confines and scope of a person’s professional and occupational duties. For example, an employee finds satisfaction when their company produces a product or service which is essential to the lives of their customers.

Responsible citizenship is much more and must never be limited to profession and artificial powers given to an individual by the state or enterprise. It is the sense of belonging and full recognition of calling a country home. It is also boldly acknowledging a sense of ownership.

The unifying effect of responsible citizenship would be different individuals coming together for the betterment of the nation. It is dispelling the notion that responsible citizenship is solitary and unique to a specific individual in specific stations in life operating under some name or trademark.

As we traverse into a post-COVID-19 environment, being a responsible citizen and looking out for each other becomes even more important. To overcome the impact of the pandemic it must be the responsibility of every citizen to support the reconstruction and recovery of our economy and society.

In particular, young people who throughout our history have been at the heart of effecting profound change are called to be at the forefront. Youth are called to take the lead in rebuilding our country’s economy in these difficult times. It is time to rise to the challenge of leading our post-COVID-19 recovery and embrace opportunities created by the “new normal”. In unlocking the potential of young people, we can build an inclusive economy, create employment and transform our society.

Let us awaken the spirit of 1976 where young people were actively involved in defining their future and the country they wanted. Today young people are encouraged to collectively work towards their economic emancipation and take their destiny into their hands.

Youth with an aptitude for business are encouraged to grab entrepreneurial opportunities available and start their own businesses. Government has made a massive push to develop small businesses and to encourage greater levels of entrepreneurship among young people.

As we continue to fight the spread of the COVID-19, let us be responsible citizens by becoming agents of change in our social circles and communities. We must ensure our actions speak louder than our words by practicing social distancing and following good hygiene habits. Our fate literally rests in our own hands, and we must therefore continue with frequent hand cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or with soap and water.

 Mawande Ndongeni – Intern at Government Communication and Information System