When a country wilfully abandons its prowess to interpret its history and present reality and succumbs to delusional fallacies to reinterpret established facts, then there is no longer any remedy for its terminal malaise.
The United States of America has been on this path for about the last 40 years, and it eventually gave them Donald Trump as president.
Podium stomping, name-calling, and crowd-pleasing lies and distortions of established truths will win him a second term as president in 2024. South Africa is on a similar pathway.
The art of fact-checking politicians is considered so old school that no one bothers with it anymore.
Calling out lies and untruths doesn’t have any effect on a politician’s electability anymore.
In Trump’s case, his reinterpretation of both historical facts and the crowd’s reality simply serves to shine his saviourhood.
Reinterpreting established truth and dishing out lies to please crowds to get elected to public office is the new opioid voters want – and politicians love it.
No one gives a toss anymore whether their favourite politician is spewing a bunch of made-up “facts” or total lies. The only thing that matters is how his words made them feel.
The death of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi is one of several such current reinterpretations of history.
The IFP death squads that conducted murderous raids on Gauteng’s East Rand and across KwaZulu-Natal, funded by and protected from prosecution by the apartheid government, are well-established facts.
Hundreds of South Africans were killed to protect Buthelezi’s tribalistic obsession with power, while the IFP continued to rally around the image of him as the affable statesman.
Some 24 hours after his death, the media braved up to write the truth. Similar reinterpretations of the present reality sanitised the outcome of the Zimbabwean elections that returned Emmerson Mnangagwa to the presidency of that country.
Bravery to call out a rigged election is often dangerous. The fraternity that frowns on those who don’t go along with their reinterpretations of facts and of present realities are always those in power.
Power callously butchers truth to reinterpret facts. The South African government and its opposition politicians are all ensconced in this callous global fraternity that reinterprets established facts to hold on to power.
South Africa unashamedly attended the inauguration of a man who stands accused of rigging an election.
Similarly, the fact that former apartheid apologists are in leadership positions across various political parties is ignored, despite apartheid being listed as a crime against humanity. We disregard their influence on the practice of politics in South Africa.
When voters begin to turn to politicians as saviours and not servants, we are on the proverbial slippery slope to cloud-cuckoo-land.
When DA-governed Cape Town is described as heaven and the rest of the country as hell then we have a public who are junkies to unhinged reinterpretation of realities.
When the ANC posts a message of a bunch of highly paid ministers and officials coming to the handing over of one house that the government refurbished, while 12 million people are waiting on houses to be delivered, the deliberate interpretative distortions are plain to see.
Who guards the truth? Who calls out lies? The old saying that “there are two sides to every story and then there’s the truth” is now truer than ever. As South Africa enters an election period, it is its media, its investors, and its multiple public institutions who should be guardians of truth being reinterpreted to suit a political message. Factual inaccuracies to suit a political message must be called out within the hour. Lies must not be moved on from until the facts have been corrected.
Our greatest fear should be that we risk abandoning established truth to buy temporary political comfort and convenience, only to end up living in a hell that our addiction to political comfort and embracing of political lies and reinterpreted truth has created.
* Lorenzo A. Davids.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.