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FIKILE-NTSIKELELO MOYA: This is why SA needs to explore the grey

opinion

We keep running on a treadmill in South Africa. If you had been in a coma for five years, you would not notice that you had lost half a decade in the way that our conversations are static.

Take the narrative around state capture. We keep being bombarded by the simplistic and binary story whose essentials are that “Group A” is good and “Group B” is bad.

Depending on one’s own inclinations, the good and the bad groups are either those aligned to former President Jacob Zuma or President Cyril Ramaphosa. By extension, anything said by those in either camp is either wise or foolish by mere virtue of it being uttered by the person.

Then billionaire businessman Patrice Motsepe said something that even those closest to him know was silly. Within minutes he had a plethora of defenders.

Many of those defending what Motsepe later recanted, would have not let someone like Ace Magashule get away with saying the exact same words as Motsepe.

This is a modern version of a time when any new ideas about what was best for society was dismissed on the basis that the person suggesting it was a “Communist” or “Liberal”.

In other cases, a thought would be dismissed just because it was from someone who had benefitted from being white and male in a racist and sexist society, or had been to exile or Robben Island.

The discussion does not even last long enough to deal with the merit. It was enough that the person belonged to the “wrong” group to have whatever they were thinking dismissed even before they had uttered it.

As unpalatable as it might be to many, it is possible that someone who was a Gupta lackey and even worse, corrupt themselves, could have some bright ideas about some of our pressing problems as a nation.

The corollary is that another person who is upright, sincere and well-meaning might just not have what is necessary to think us out of our quagmire.

One can understand being partisan when it is about their favourite sporting team. But when it comes to the future of the country, it is a luxury we can ill afford. This type of binary thinking is childish, at best.

To be unable to separate the merits of whether South Africa needs to have a national carrier like SAA or whether it can afford NOT to have National Health Insurance from who is sponsoring the idea is to lack appreciation of where this nation is today.

Anyone whose language amounts to capitalism is good/bad and socialism is good/bad is unhelpful. Modern political economies have become a lot more complex than at the beginning of the Cold War.

The challenge we have is to assess everything and anything on its merits. It is to understand that things are seldom black and white and therefore our task is to explore the grey.

Slogans, whether by the political right or left, are not good enough. Heaven help and protect us from those who, amid the already ridiculous, believe that an idea is good because “most” people think it is. Let’s not even start with how they know that “most” people think so.

Recycled speeches and slogans will not take us forward. In fact, they will prove the old saying that if you do what you have always done, you will get what you always got. It is time we all grew up.

Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya is an independent journalist and former editor of The Mercury and The Witness.

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