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Letters/Discussion Forums

2017 is the time to change the narrative



Andrew George, Sandton

Our biggest issue is that nine per cent of the population controls 90 per cent of the wealth, which leaves 91 per cent with only 10 per cent of the wealth. These 91 per cent should have their voices heard to a larger extent.

Yet an impression since 1994 is that the most whining and complaining come from the wealthiest nine per cent. Furthermore, this appears to be viewed as “the collective consciousness and narrative of the nation”.

To add perspective, if a tourist visited South Africa and read every newspaper article, opinion piece and letter published since 1994, what impression would they take as to our biggest issue?

I’m confident it would not be unequal wealth distribution but crime, corruption, an ANC government, maladministration, state capture, BEE (the irony), quotas and also Aids.

This would be due to the South African narrative created since 1994 by the wealthiest nine per cent via the media. I can easily imagine media coverage emphasising: “Victory as Jacob Zuma resigns”. Conversely, I can hardly imagine media coverage that emphasises, “Victory as new economic reform policies passed”.

Considering that the latter would be a victory for the majority, why is it hard to imagine coverage presented like this? Have we endured 22 years of a captured media? Do we lack powerhouse editors, publishers and journalists with an accurate point of reference of who all constitutes South Africa and where that weight lies? Or does our media just play to the money?    

The fact that our tourist would have an incorrect impression of our biggest issue should cause every publisher, editor, columnist and investigative journalist to reflect deeply on what makes headlines and why.

I recently read a 2017 South African “dream list” of a prominent publisher and wealth redistribution did not feature. For how much longer must this elephant wander around a seemingly unconscious room as an inconvenient truth?

The 91 per cent’s unequal share in our economy and the reforms needed to address it, is the headline issue of our time. Most other social ills and issues stem from this. Middleclass people generally don’t hijack each other and knowledgeable people hold governments accountable to higher standards.

The sooner we support addressing this issue the better for all. The challenge is that society has to care and individuals have to think past themselves for it to work. You have to see your neighbour as yourself, as primarily we are all human first with secondary racial classifications being ignorant at best and indoctrination at worst. It is time to renew our minds and purge our hearts.   

We need a new narrative with our main issue and its reforms being embraced socially. Our media must be responsible to ensure that this is reported on significantly and positively. Here’s to believing that when our tourist visits again in five years’ time, this will be clear.


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