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n Communicare : Journal for Communication Sciences in Southern Africa - Political rhetoric used by the main parties in the final debate before the 1999 election : research article
In order to identify the rhetorical characteristics of the participants, this study aimed to describe, interpret and evaluate the verbal strategies and tactics used by the five debaters who participated. The Eclectic Approach within the experiential perspective was used.
Pahad revealed an idiosyncratic rhetorical style. Leon lived up to his party's overall strategy: "To Fight Back". He mostly used the strategy of attack and pinpointed the causes of identified problems in no uncertain terms. Van Schalkwyk appeared to be the man with the facts. Of all the debaters, he made the most use of substantial evidence and proof. Ngobane interacted very Little with his fellow debaters. This is in Line with his view that opposition parties should rather "move towards consensus politics, ... but not come and attack the government". Viljoen did not once identify himself with his party. He created the image of the political advisor who stands above party politics.
Despite identified negative aspects of the debaters' style and the imperfect format, debate should always be on the political agenda. Rigorous inquiry towards political and moral truth should be at the core of the rhetoric of a democracy to improve the quality of debating and argumentation, in order to enrich democracy and to allow citizens to make well-informed decisions.
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