If I were editor for a day... I’d challenge the prophets of doom this Heritage Month

2011-09-10 08:24

‘Yes, but...” These two little words tend to crop up very frequently in any debate – publicly or privately – about the state of our country 17 years after the advent of democracy.

In our vigilant, politically literate and fiercely argumentative society, the family braai area, local coffee shop, spectators’ stand at a school’s soccer tournament or service queues at Home Affairs or the local licensing centre can be treacherous places.

This is where the slightest hiccup or irritation sets off the always-present prophet or prophetess of doom.“This is Africa, boet. Just chill,” is how the doomsayer will typically strike up a diatribe that soon makes a Kilimanjaro out of a molehill and will have you believe that the country is on the precipice of disaster.

If you’re not careful, you could, by the time you reach the head of the queue, believe that it is only a matter of time before Gautrain staff start letting people on to the trains for free.

Or, that National Health Insurance is just a way to get the rich to pay for the poor again, while the poor simply line up to collect grants for teenage girls who stay pregnant in order to get more grants.

Or, that Europeans will stop bringing their hard currency here if we don’t allow them to own land here.Or, that five streets in Durban have been renamed after a gang of convicted criminals.

And so the mythology grows.Woe betide anyone who sticks their head above the parapet to offer a vaguely considered or more balanced view. Soon the slings and arrows of pessimism swing into action, with every positive assertion deflected by a “yes, but...” to point out failure – or potential failure – in the midst of the cited success.

Normally, the only supportive sentiment entails the suggestion that the brave soul pointing out the progress made by the country – or, more likely, government – seek psychological assistance on the way home.

The doomsayers often appear better equipped than the defenders of the realm when it comes to the numbers – and the numbers are often extreme enough to create an offside trap for those who stand up for the government and country.Our country faces many challenges, but we should not allow these to detract from the progress we have seen and are experiencing in spite of the doomsayers’ worst predictions or refusal to believe in the integrity of what we have achieved.

This Heritage Month, let’s fly the flag and build on the legacy left by the heroes and heroines of our liberation struggle.

» Manyi is the CEO of the Government and Communication Information System

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