THE attachment to the ANC by most people in this country defies reason. A quasi-religious faith in the liberation movement that delivered a negotiated solution is the order of the day. Benjamin Franklin once said: “The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.” Centuries before him, Sophocles had the same idea. In Oedipus at Colonus he demonstrates that antirationalism — as exemplified by Oedipus — is contradictory and self-destructive. Sophocles advocates a sober and cautious political rationalism that recognises the dangers of religious passion to political life.
This is as true of America in the 18th century and Greece in the 3rd century BC as it is of SA today. Support for the ANC continues despite the dictates of reason.
Never mind that the events which led to SA’s successful negotiation were extraneous (the fall of communism) and that internal mass movements which challenged a beleaguered state were separate from the ANC: blind faith still rules.
Even among the intelligentsia there is a discernible inability to break with the dictates of this faith. The trouble is that they’re looking for another leap of faith when our situation calls instead for a dispassionate interrogation of what needs to be done.
It’s as if the weight of history keeps them from rising out of murky waters while they wait for the messiah to return, full of promises of a new Jerusalem.
Many eyes remain closed to the need to lessen the control that this ANC has over the state — control it has wielded to disastrous effect, particularly over the past 10 years.
The building of a credible opposition that is able to provide checks and balances and an ability to hold the ANC accountable ought to be an obvious choice.
In spite of this, many hold on to blind faith, driven not only by the promise of jobs, patronage, tenders and hand-outs but by an inability to embrace reason.
And so they will search for flaws in the opposition and are willing prey to manufactured issues that pivot primarily around the question of race.
It’s a bit like someone I am close to who has many daughters and one son. I was called in to assist in the financial separation between father and son — the son had, in the father’s experience, been less than honourable. Thereafter, I encouraged the father to make a will. He insisted, despite his experience of his son, that it be done according to Islamic sharia law. This means that the many daughters would share 50% of the estate while the son inherited the other 50%.
How do you pierce the veil of blind faith with the illuminating light of reason? It’s difficult but we would be shirking our collective duty if we didn’t try.
Plans for redress, growth and opportunity must be championed. Corruption needs exposing and a tight ship needs to be run by people fit for purpose. This is worth pursuing and the key lies in identifying the audience, message and channels for driving this home in a way that resonates with those whose faith may be wavering.
To assist in exploring this space, the preoccupation that many in the media have with the primacy of the ruling party’s brand needs to end. The value of a brand is, after all, measured in real terms by the efficacy and veracity of the promise. It is this that requires the kind of rigorous interrogation that will help those blinded by faith to understand and internalise that the halo atop the brand has fallen.
Then the real debate can begin and reason can begin to inform the choices available for voters to make.
This is, in essence, a call to those who own the channels in which debate resides to assist in the debunking of myths that prime the discourse. It’s a bit of affirmative action in the interests of the primacy of reason over blind faith in a messiah.
• Cachalia is the Democratic Alliance candidate for mayor of Ekurhuleni.