OPINION | All must play their part to save this country
South Africa has failed to capitalise on its strengths so far.
That failure is similar to the failure of the ANC to successfully exist as a “broad church”, resulting in a party which is tearing itself apart through factionalism.
The ruling party has not been able to manage and create value out of its vastly different ideological constituencies.
Similarly, it has not been able to co-ordinate the efforts of diverse South Africans towards a single over-arching vision.
This has been demonstrated by its regression into tribalism and racialism in the Zuma years.
While it is proper to blame the ANC for the high levels of crime, unemployment, corruption, and many other terrible things, we increasingly need to look at our role in the state of our nation.
It is often too easy for those of us who are not ANC members to think they have no part in the current state of our nation.
Yet, every South African who is alive has a responsibility to make this country work.
If we are to save and rebuild South Africa, we must take responsibility for making the nation strong first and foremost, before we support political parties.
It is also proper to blame the National Party and the apartheid government of yesteryear.
That era must always remind us that the follies of a period in history have real consequences far beyond that period.
However, we must take responsibility for retaining attitudes and views that were shaped by that period.One of the most entrenched remnants of apartheid is our insistence on putting race considerations on a pedestal.This contributes nothing towards strengthening our nation. It creates no jobs and reduces no crime.It only sets us against each other, guaranteeing only that we waste energy on racial stereotyping.This inhibits rather than enhances communication and interaction within the nation.Through both apartheid and our young democracy, our nation has been managed through divisions.The “neat” lines which divide us along with race, along tribal lines, along gender lines, and along religious lines, were and are still pronounced.The continued prominence of these dividing lines over and above diverse cultural backgrounds, diverse economic, social and political backgrounds, make for a fairly complex environment to manage.The ruling party, together with some opposition parties, like the EFF, have taken a shortcut.They decided to simply woo the “black” vote, motivated by numbers. While this may be beneficial for short-term political gain, it has a regressive effect on the nation.It entrenches suspicion, creates ill feelings towards each other and thwarts positive interactions among citizens.Unfortunately, without this positive interaction, there is little ground for increased economic activity.If we look at the prominence of factional politics within the ANC, we see the manifestation of management through divisions.It is a way of managing human affairs which hinges on putting people in opposing camps, then using resultant conflict to garner support from one camp in the hope that the winner takes all.It is an outdated confrontational style which often depends on bigoted views.This style of management does not conceive of dialogue, agreement, and action based on a commitment to an agreement as a possible choice.Instead, it depends on fomenting conflict or threat of conflict to keep citizens riled up and focused on these self-generated threats while political gain is extracted.Unfortunately, the same energy we waste on anger in response is the energy we need to come up with smart developmental programmes which will force whoever is in government to support them.South Africa’s strength rests in diversity. However, to realise this we must not regard diversity as a curse, like Verwoerd. Rather, we must regard it as an asset like Mandela did.While this is easy to say, it has proved very difficult to practice. However, until every citizen takes it as their role to discover points of convergence where value can be created by combining diverse views and ideas, we will struggle to develop South Africa.Unless citizens change, leaders will not change.As often is the case in democratic countries, political leaders follow their followers not the other way round.If we control the dialogue and speak intentionally about our emerging nation, we may find these leaders speaking and relating more constructively towards our nation.If we speak and act more in line with our intertwined fate, our leaders may have no choice but to put the nation before their political parties.