The Path We Travel

2015-07-19 14:18

To quote Robert Frost would be a little trite. But indeed two paths now diverge in our yellow wood, and South Africa has the choice as to which road to travel. The country has turned towards the ill-advised option, and we need to be very certain that this is direction of choice before journeying forward. Crossroads are often uncomfortable and the enormity of the decision can paralyze even the most experienced traveler. Only this is not the time for inaction, because lack of contemplation will lead us in the direction we are already facing.

We have been here before. August 15th 1985. I was 17 and I recall my whole family gathering around the television as we awaited an announcement that would alter the course of the country, for the better. The time had finally arrived and although we were nervous (having been subject to the years of racist propaganda) we knew that South Africa had to change. We were not alone. More than 200 Million people from around the world believed that Nelson Mandela would be freed and that Apartheid would end, and tuned in to this speech. Only it didn’t. And PW Botha chose to walk into the abyss. The result would be a State of Emergency, detention without trial, brutality and bloodshed. He chose the wrong path and it would take the country years to recover.

And now, once again it is in the air. Change is needed and a new direction critical. South Africans have been assaulted by corruption, by Nkandla and e-Tolls, by Prasa and SAA, by crime and FIFA and Eskom. It has been abused by Government attacks on the Judiciary and by colossal and embarrassing inefficiency. The Education system, Healthcare and Home Affairs and the electricity crises bare testimony to a broken system. It is time to choose an alternative path before it is too late.

We have options. Nothing is broken beyond repair (except maybe the post office and maybe the SACP). All it takes is the simple recognition that things aren’t working and then we can decide how best to proceed. Some areas are easier than others. It is not difficult to acknowledge that the new Home Affairs visa decision is a debacle. Say sorry, reverse the ruling and all will be forgiven. Admit that Prasa (who some of us hadn’t even heard of until a few weeks ago) screwed up. Admit that the al-Bashir fiasco was a gargantuan folly and that the Judiciary is correct and untouchable and we will all breath easier. Stop lying to us about Eskom. Stop dancing around Nkandla and go back to the drawing board on e-Tolls. But start by agreeing that we are poised to travel the wrong path and that we need to cease from doing so before its too late (or have I already said that).

Our elected leaders need to act like adults. The energy spent on petty political in-fighting (and fashion) is also pretty unhelpful. Parliamentary antics inspire no one, and aside from the reassuring consolation that at least we have freedom of speech, it does little to aid progress. It’s time that we left the playground activities to the children and got serious about saving this country. Or as we say to our children – don’t make us tell you this again – grow up before it’s too late.

South Africans love South Africa. And it’s very irritating (to say the least) to have to witness the daily descent of our beloved country. There is no good reason that we need to be in the situation we are in and every good reason we shouldn’t be. It’s time to choose a new path to travel by, because when two paths diverge in a yellow wood, that's the decision that will make all the difference.

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