SA was once renowned globally for its ability to hammer out consensus despite enormous differences. It would be hard to say the same thing nowadays as even the “enlightened” parts of the ANC, exemplified by finance minister Tito Mboweni and the Gauteng government, trade insults on social media. If social media is any indication, the distances between us — racial, ideological, economic, social — seem to be widening.

In the late 1980s we faced implosion. The ANC and the National Party — exemplars of the good guys and the bad apples in our narrative — were worlds apart. The apartheid government was killing and jailing children in townships. The ANC had the moral high ground but was exhausted and paranoid from years in exile. An energetic “mass democratic movement” was forcing the change the country needed from within SA.

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