Faith Daniels

Finally the politicians are learning from the masses

2016-03-24 12:51

Faith Daniels

South Africans like talking. About everything. Even if a comment is not solicited. We will share our opinion with anyone who will listen. It's the stuff that good talk radio is made of. Ask a question on an open radio line and you will get a response. We are never quiet, there's no such thing as silent introspection with us. We loudly criticise, vent, analyse, debate. That's us. But certainly not our politicians. Or so I thought.

 

For the politicians, it seems, have caught up with the people. Everyone is singing like canaries these days. It took one family – the now infamous Guptas – to open the floodgates. And it now appears the politicians have caught up with the masses.

 

It's not just the EFF's Juju who provides the shock and horror anymore. Nor is it the vociferous DA leader Mmusi Maimane. All of a sudden there's stiff competition from the often oh-so-silent ruling party.

 

And, in my view, that can never be a bad thing. I say bring on the champagne and celebrate... who knows how long the unburdening will last?

 

Of course the allegations and counter-allegations being made must be tested but it's definitely better than the alternative and what we have become used to – the "no comment" brigades and the press statements saying very little.

 

Hopefully those days are behind us now. But would we even be here if it weren't for our elders, who have been consistent in their outspokenness?

 

ANC stalwart and former Member of Parliament Ben Turok has never shied away from speaking his mind. In 2014 –  on the issue of whether President Jacob Zuma must pay back the Nkandla money and way before the matter ended up at the Constitutional Court – Turok was quoted as saying, "Whether the president ordered this construction or not, he has benefited. And, if you benefit, then you ought to pay something." Late last year, after the Nhlanhla Nene axing debacle, Turok also said that President Zuma must retire.

 

More recently, ANC stalwart and Rivonia trialist Denis Goldberg has called on the president to step down. "He is now caught in a position which sometimes seems to be destroying the very thing he built and helped to build and that’s deeply tragic," he was quoted as saying.

 

These are voices that you cannot easily dismiss – the voices of reason in our democracy. But it's a democracy in trouble. The only thing that majorly counts in its favour is our candid nature – our ability to talk about things even when they are decidedly unpleasant. We did it at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, where the ugliest truths were revelead; we did at the Codesa negotiations, where not even the most vicious political spats could stop us talking. 

 

It's a pity our president doesn't seem to like this approach. After all, as much as we like talking, we know how to listen as well.

- Faith Daniels is a seasoned radio and TV journalist, and is currently head of news at Kagiso Media’s Jacaranda FM and East Coast Radio.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

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