Aida 204 Mbeki Panel ……


OPEN confession is good for the soul. By the very nature of things, it must be accepted that a high percentage of ANC support, perhaps a majority, is either semi- or entirely illiterate. That this has distinct political advantages was admitted by Deputy President Thabo Mbeki, addressing a recent panel of international politicians, diplomats and technologists on the political impact of the developing Information Society.

Arranged by Time magazine the symposium, held in Davos, Switzerland, agreed that today's world is knitted together, not just by the printed word, but by wires, cables and satellite lines all buzzing with breaking news and e-mail. What will that mean to tomorrow's political leaders? Mbeki argued that it must change the way leaders deal with their people.

"Before," he said, "you had the politician as a professional, an expert who mediated understanding of events. Instant access to information reduces the mystique surrounding the politician. You're no longer a representative, elected for five years, sitting there doing your thing, with the natives waiting for you to come to them." In fact, he observed, "it is easier to govern if the population is ignorant." Which may just explain the ANC's determination to crash SA's educational system at all levels.

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