The land question is a case in point. "Once you take popular issues and discuss them in populist ways without subjecting them to the framework of mediation, critical thought, evidence and problem-solving orientation, you end up opening the floodgates of discussing every popular issue in a populist way," Fakir says.
Once you’ve set a precedent in the way that a debate over land, for example, is handled, "what’s next? Arbitrary deprivation of private property? Why not?" Fakir says every party in SA is guilty of this escalation. The ANC flirts dangerously with the question of race, drawing "perilously" close to the edge before it pulls back. "The EFF just goes," he says, "and masks it in the crudest racial terms.
So does the BLF [Black First Land First movement]." The DA is also not above stepping into the populist realm, says Fakir, referring among others to comments by DA leader Mmusi Maimane about doubling social grants, as well as the party’s stance on immigration. In contrast, Fakir points to the discussion about the national minimum wage as an example of a popular issue that was not dealt with in a populist way.
The problem, he says, can in some instances be traced to failing governance systems. "Once you exhaust all the popular issues and more and more issues are addressed in a populist way, the next step to that is … self-organisation on the basis of ethnic, or narrow, or other interests.