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Wednesday, 24 September 2014

OPPOSITION POLITICS: SOWING DISCONNECTION AND LOSING THE PLOT

"Bloody bastards", "barking dogs", "mental illnesses", "tsotsis" and "buttocks" were a few of the choice words heaped by various MP's on each other in last week's Parliamentary no- confidence debate about the Speaker of Parliament, Baleka Mbete.  Insults were flying around like confetti in what sounded like a primary school playground dust-up.  

Which seems like a strange way to deal with the real issue, which was Mbete's suitability and competency to be the Parliamentary Speaker.  Naledi Pandor was chastised for referring to the opposition as "so-called honorable Members".  Although she may have had a point in the context of the debate, the irony of her comment vis-a-vis the honour in her own behaviour seemed to have been lost on her.

To top off a fine week,  the splendid Floyd Shivambu felt the need to heckle and raise a middle finger to our Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, as the latter addressed Parliament on the Marikana tragedy.  However, he showed his clear political maturity when he later said that, after discussion within his EFF Party structures, he thought it best to withdraw the middle finger gesture.  How one does that exactly, I'm not too sure. It seems like quite a challenge to withdraw a finger gesture which everyone saw and understood, but perhaps it's just me who can't figure that out.

Little wonder that the public is so skeptical of the role and effectiveness of politicians.  
This behaviour speaks volumes about a huge political immaturity within our fragile democracy.

More importantly, what floors me is that, ostensibly at least, all of these people are trying to achieve the same thing: a better South Africa and a better life for South Africans.  Somehow that piece is missed when political rhetoric becomes personal.  As the saying goes, when elephants fight it is the grass which gets trampled.

The concern is that when the leaders heap gratuitous and unnecessary abuse on each other, firstly they lose the essence of what the issue is and secondly it divides the followers even more.  If unity of the people is the goal, opposition politics seems to be completely anathema to the concept.

Until people, at all levels and in all positions, understand that judgment sows division, we can never have a connected society.  

Perhaps that is the role of our politicians: to help us to see how not to behave, and what we don't want, so that we, the electorate, are inspired to take the high road by leading the way and rather fostering connection among ourselves.

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