Reader’s Letter: Unbiased analyzes by partisan people


Fanie Cronje writes:

Political analysis is often associated with impartiality, neutrality, objectivity and the pursuit of truth. However, achieving these ideals in practice is fraught with challenges.

Although it is essential to strive for these standards, complete impartiality is probably unattainable. Each analyst, despite their best efforts to remain unbiased, approaches their work from the context of their own experiences and environment.

In South Africa, where experiences and perspectives are substantially diverse and often contradictory, this challenge is particularly pronounced.

To get as close as possible to impartiality, neutrality and truth, one must try to understand a wide range of opinions and views. In my role as a political risk analyst at Approach Profit Managers, I make a conscious effort to achieve this by reading diverse sources of news and analysis. I explore publications across the spectrum – from RNews to Iqbal Survé’s IOLand everything in between like Daily Maverick, Daily Friend, Daily Investor, News24, Free Weeklyand many others – in my pursuit of a more comprehensive understanding of “the truth”.

Despite these efforts, I admit that I cannot fully understand the life experiences of those who grew up in South Africa’s townships. My perspective will of course differ from that of a colleague who has experienced this reality. This recognition highlights the inherent subjectivity in political analysis: our evaluations of the political environment are shaped by our unique backgrounds and experiences.

True political analysts must therefore avoid the pretense of being the definitive tellers of the truth. It is especially critical not to disparage others with different opinions. Authentic political analysis involves recognizing and respecting the quality and depth of feelings of “the other side”.

I read a striking observation this morning: everyone supports freedom of speech until they hear something they don’t like. This takes up a significant issue with many self-proclaimed political analysts in South Africa. A true commitment to political analysis requires that we respect and understand diverse views, even those we may find disagreeable.

The other sentiment is the prevailing narrative. In this regard, the concept of the “rainbow nation” is praised as the framework within which political analysis will be carried out. This perception (although not necessarily wrong) is likely to dampen the search for the truth. This will preclude (the concept of) thinking outside the box and can lead to stagnation.

Finally, although complete impartiality may be an unattainable ideal, striving for it by embracing a broad spectrum of perspectives can bring us closer to a balanced and truthful analysis. This effort is not just an academic exercise, but a necessary discipline for anyone involved in political analysis in a diverse and complex society like South Africa.