What those who set the national agenda ignore can be as important as the issues that get them talking.  Last Friday Durban was startled by a blast at its Engen oil refinery, the second-biggest in the country. The fire caused by the explosion did not take anyone’s life but seven people were hospitalised. The plant was shut down temporarily, the company is investigating and the department of mineral resources & energy says it “will urgently conduct an assessment of petroleum products supply”.  

But the national debate’s reaction has been ... silence; the blast has triggered no response at all. At first glance this seems fair. There were no fatalities, action has been taken and an investigation has begun. It may seem less fair if we consider this: had the blast happened close to an area where the politicians, journalists and others who shape the debate live, rather than in Merebank, a low-income area of Durban, would the debate have been this relaxed? Or would it be alarmed that...

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