While our leaders trade childish insults, SA is racing to its ...

Ideas

While our leaders trade childish insults, SA is racing to its doom

Far from the great political feat of 1994, we are now unable to find consensus and solve our real problems

Columnist

There was a time once when SA was renowned the world over for its ability to hammer out consensus despite massive differences. It would be hard to say the same thing today as even the “enlightened” parts of the ANC, exemplified by the Gauteng government and finance minister Tito Mboweni, trade insults on social media. If social media is any indication, the distances between us – racial, ideological, economic, social – seem to be widening.

In the late 1980s we faced implosion. The ANC and the National Party – exemplars of the good guys and the bad apples in our narrative – were worlds apart. The apartheid government was killing and jailing children in townships. The ANC had the moral high ground but was exhausted and paranoid from years in exile. An energetic “mass democratic movement” was forcing the change the country needed from within SA.

Yet, amid this chaos and distance, consensus was reached. The 1994 election, a magnificent political feat which the likes of the Economic Freedom Fighters and other peacetime revolutionaries (Veuve Clicquot and all) try to ridicule and denigrate, is a child of the consensus that was reached with pain through the democracy negotiations. The past 25 years of democracy, blemishes and all, are the fruit of the ability to dig deep and reach consensus...

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