Politics of rage puts our gains in danger

Amid the growing protest turmoil on our campuses and in our towns, SA’s leaders seem to have abandoned Madiba’s legacy of reason in rage, writes Wits Vice-Chancellor Professor Adam Habib. These are difficult days. All around us there are multiple manifestations of the politics of rage. Our strikes are violent, as are our service delivery protests. Student ferment has been on the rise, and has in many cases also turned violent. Our public discourse and electoral campaign rhetoric are similarly replete with militaristic language and violent imagery. The rage is of course understand-able. Many have warned us for a long time that the extreme levels of inequality, which have only grown in the post-apartheid era, and the political and societal polarisation it engenders will catch up with us. The cherry on top is the corruption, perhaps most egregiously reflected in the Marie Antoinettesque character of the Nkandla saga. The failure of the ANC to rein in the excesses of its president has contributed to the culture of rage, and the politics that emanates from it. But as much as this rage is understandable, does the politics that manifests from it put us on a path to addressing the economic and social inclusion that is necessary to heal the divides of our society?

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