GNU quagmire: taking headwinds is not easy

Dr Vusi Shongwe Picture: Supplied

Dr Vusi Shongwe Picture: Supplied

Published Jun 30, 2024



The death of democracy will not be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference and lack of nourishment. | Robert M Hutchins.

If the DA is genuine about its quest to ameliorate the lives of the downtrodden, it must always prioritise their interests first, and desist from being too self-centred.

The biggest challenge we face as humans is the one that lies within ourselves, the result of an innate and probably biological tendency to satisfy personal desires over the well-being of society.

This is exactly what the DA is doing with its outrageous bargaining for ministerial posts. Regarding the impasse on ministerial allocations, one suggests a modified version of Kenneth Burke’s theory of rhetoric as a way to address the question of how a new coalition government constructs and projects an image of unity.

Burke holds that identification may be achieved when a speaker links himself or herself with others by appealing to shared values, attitudes or goals.

If successful, argues Judi Atkins in her paper, “Together in the National Interest: The Rhetoric of Unity and the Formation of the Cameron-Clegg Government,” this discovery of common ground forms the basis of a rapport between speaker and audience and thus facilitates co-operative action.

Atkins distinguishes three forms of identification that may be employed to promote and demonstrate coalition unity – ideological, based on shared values; instrumental, which is founded on common interests (either existing or rhetorically constructed); and interpersonal, which concerns the relations between individuals or groups.

Also relevant is his concept of identification through antithesis, which occurs when groups who would otherwise argue join forces against a common adversary. This is achieved by portraying the enemy in a negative light, while inviting the allies to identify with the aims and values of the group.

My take regarding our Government of National Unity is that President Cyril Ramaphosa must be wary and rise above the prohibitive “agreeable black” perception that is growing worrisomely in the African public domain.

Right now, he is standing at the unction of African solidarity on the left and a perceived “Uncle Tom” direction on the right, and the ball is in the court of the head of state, Ramaphosa. He must not be cowed into agreeing to the DA’s ridiculous and arrogant demands of a 20% share of ministerial posts. The struggle to improve the lives of the poorest of the poor is far from over.

Every person on this planet shares a common humanity. We all want everybody to have decent jobs and live a poverty-free life. That’s what being human is about.

It is our job, to do everything we can to oppose all who try to divide us up and set us against each other.

Who else other than the president should extricate the country from the quagmire it has sunk into? My message to Ramaphosa is that taking headwinds is not easy.

Do not be sidetracked. Change born out of pathos and dissatisfaction can be redirected by vision, and resolved by definitive implementation.

He is advised not to forget Immanuel Kant’s famous quote: Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.

Kant is saying that humanity is so irregular that you cannot make anything perfectly straight from it. As American founding father Thomas Paine, the, said in 1776: These are the times that try men’s souls.

Dr Vusi Shongwe is the chief director of heritage at the KZN Department of Sport, Arts and Culture. He writes in his personal capacity.

Sunday Tribune