Are We At The Cognitive Junction?

2016-07-28 15:44

It was Abe Lincoln who said “you can fool all of the people some of the time or you can fool some of the people all of the time”. But - he continued “you cannot fool all of the people all of the time!”

For some South Africans that has been a consolation of sorts. For the rest - unfortunately the bulk of our citizenry – it has been a case of embracing a feel good religion based on fraudulent assumptions and precepts.

The shorthand for that religion is the ubiquitous “Struggle” – an expression of entitlement with little commitment and effort; one guided by an inept elite.

Since 1994, an unsophisticated electorate has done what it was told and bought into notions promoted by their leaders. Such notions had been disproven by the world at large and demonstrated to be in conflict with basic common sense.

As a result of ignoring such wisdom, it has come to pass that

• Public Education – the very bedrock of the nation’s future – has been emasculated by the trade union movement and government vested interests

• The once leading economy on the continent has slipped to third place

• Economic growth has dwindled to nothing at all. Indeed, it sometimes slips into negative territory

• We have the highest rate of unemployment in the world

• One type of racism was displaced with another. People were not treated equally, as promised

• Our parastatals and government services range from mediocre to dysfunctional and just plain “broken”

- with many other examples, if you are curious enough to seek them out!

This is all hardly surprising when considering the composition of our government from the get-go.

After our first “free” elections, the ruling party took on board the trade union movement Cosatu and the S A Communist Party in the most astonishing and bizarre ruling alliance imaginable. The world had just thrown the ideologies of those parties onto the ash heap after decades of hard won experience and empirical evidence of their effects, yet we embraced them.

We wrote the script for our socio-economic collapse.

To make things worse, the nation’s leadership deteriorated, going from bad to worse to criminal. Whilst Mandela was plainly a nice guy, his leadership was restricted to reconciliation and public relations. He failed to lead from the front with a robust and “out-there” work ethic that would encourage his people to put their shoulders to the wheel and make sacrifices to get ahead.

Mbeki is to this day a Walter Mitty and cranky sort with enough blemishes on his CV to question whether he is in contact with reality at any level.

As for Zuma – words are superfluous.

Yet I wonder.

Is it not just possible that by the end of next week we could feel indebted to Zuma? Is it not conceivable that he is bringing home to millions of people how big a mistake they made all these years? Without him, how long would that have taken?

Even with collapsing state enterprises, a dysfunctional labour regime and the worst education and employment figures in the world it is just possible that a persuasive and inspirational leader could give the ruling party an extended shelf life with ever more hollow promises. But Zuma does not have that gift.

His party is fragmenting – and we should be well pleased.

Given the eNCA and Ipsos Markinor survey figures for the major metropoles (exceptions being Durban and Bloemfontein), indications are that the decline in ANC support has been precipitous. Will this be borne out in the municipal elections?

Any which way, given that our population is urbanising rapidly, this trend will do the ruling party no good in the long run, even if the ANC manages to hold on to some of the main metros on Wednesday. The reason for that is that even more people will – notwithstanding worsening education and service levels – have learned that they have been bamboozled yet again.

And that is because Lincoln was right – you cannot fool all the people all the time!

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