Divided South African Society Needs to Free Itself
In the wake of public outrage over FW de Klerk’s CNN interview and racism once again becoming a hot topic for South Africans, Steven Friedman, director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy, considers this divide in society – specifically in business.
In his latest Business Day offering ‘We must free ourselves from our mental shackles’, Friedman observes that while South Africans expressing their opinions, however loud and passionately, is a vital part of democracy, it is only through compromise and acknowledging (and accepting) our differences that we will find common ground.
Friedman states that business should be asking itself tough questions such as: Would business be better off without trade unions? Is there anything businesses should be doing to contribute more to the building of a fairer society? He says that these questions are just examples of the inward reflection business groups need to do instead of focusing on criticising others. In other words, groups need to contemplate their own flaws before judging others, a lesson that any parent may teach their child.
While some may view this idea of a national debate as an impossible ideal, Friedman points out that it was this type of conversation that South Africa engaged in in the 1990s, the same type of conversation that prevented possible conflict.