From amandla to amen: Jesus is coming very soon for the ANC

Ideas

From amandla to amen: Jesus is coming very soon for the ANC

Brace yourselves, South Africans, to say goodbye to predictable politics and hello to the uncertainties of populism

Columnist

It’s quite possible that in ascending the mount of democracy in 1994 we became bedazzled by our achievement, forgetting the words of Nelson Mandela when he said: “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more to climb.’’ We thought a new, liberal constitution would be enough to put SA irrevocably on a trajectory of democracy and, inevitably, prosperity. We forgot there’d be other, steeper, hills to climb. One of them is called reality.

In the 27 years — some of them great, others less so — that have intervened in the meantime, the novelty of being a democracy has worn thin. For those of us who lived as adults in the years before 1994, it’s incredible to think that the emotions that animated SA’s liberation struggle would be so carelessly forgotten and set aside for more pressing recreational duties on election day, or to mow the lawn and clean the pool.

That fewer than half of voters turned out for this week’s local government elections reflects a society that’s forgotten where it came from, and now appears to take democracy for granted. Voting has become as unappealing, and pointless, as an outing on a public holiday. And don’t forget the voter turnout is only in respect of those who have registered, which is a fraction of the number of people eligible to vote if they’d bothered to register...

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