Original Research

From ‘government’ to ‘governance’: Tensions in disaster-resilience leadership in Zimbabwe

Pathias P. Bongo, Siambabala B. Manyena
Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies | Vol 7, No 1 | a188 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jamba.v7i1.188 | © 2015 Pathias P. Bongo, Siambabala B. Manyena | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 April 2015 | Published: 30 November 2015

About the author(s)

Pathias P. Bongo, Disaster Management and Development Studies, Bindura University of Science Education, Zimbabwe
Siambabala B. Manyena, Disaster Resilience, University of Manchester, United Kingdom


This article examines the challenges that disaster leadership faces to move away from a top-down, command-and-control style to distributed leadership. The article challenges the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction which appears to be silent on leadership and instead emphasises ‘good governance’ to enhance organisational and institutional capacity for disaster resilience. We posit that leadership is an indispensable component of good governance, and not emphasising it could be tantamount to a gross underestimation of disaster policy and practice. Using the data from participatory action research that was conducted in Matabeleland South Province, Zimbabwe, the findings reveal some tensions in shifting from command and control to distributed leadership in disaster-risk reduction, which has implications for the shift from government to governance in disaster risks. More importantly, this study reiterates the blurred distinctions between disaster-risk reduction and sustainable development. Thus, unless well-known, sustainable development challenges are addressed – particularly community-based leadership, good governance, the integration of local knowledge, empowerment and ownership of development programmes – shifting from government to disaster governance is likely to continue facing challenges.


disaster, leadership, accountability, empowerment, governance


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