Juvenile politicians – Kasrils, Sisulu and our leading party show true colours
The level of the debate has truly reached rock bottom. Adults on the eve of national elections resorting to the logic of the prep-school play-ground, is an embarrassment to the nation. “If you don’t do it my way I am not going to play with you!” … “I am going to tell them what you did!” … “Big Daddy’s gonna smack you” … ”I am not sharing the sweets!” … “Watch me break the bat if I don’t get another turn.”
The vote is sacrosanct
We are painfully, step-by-step building a democracy. I am an unashamed and hopeful patriot, but this sort of immature tit-for-tat behaviour sets us back by decades. I remember attending a meeting at Stellenbosch University in bad old Apartheid days. A student asked some pertinent questions, and Prime Minister P.W. Botha asked what his name was and what job he aspired to, instead of answering the question or explaining how the national Party planned to deal with matters under discussion. Ms Sisulu’s threats, sulks and personal comments would be funny if it were not so nauseatingly indicative of the ANC’s modus operandi. Freedom of speech and the media, an independent judiciary and our vote, is the bulwark against oppression and a safeguard against despotism. Punish people whose opinion differs from yours, and we are one step away from dictatorship and tyranny. Reward those that agree with you with goodies and benefits (and she admits this in so many words) and the death of democracy is upon us. What next? Banning crime statistics and silencing journalists is but a short step from burning the books and rounding up the Jews. We are battling to grow a culture of freedom and create confidence in human creativity and adaptability, and this is the response of prominent leaders? P.W Botha and Verwoerd would have been proud of you! Except perhaps for the style – Ms Sisulu is too elegant.
Cringing at the antics and statements of one’s leaders is not a banana republic prerogative – Bush and Berlusconi are cases in point – but dear heavens, show a little respect for the suffering and courage of the people that fought for the ideals of democracy. Pieter Dirk Uys said years ago that “democracy isn’t for everyone”. Apparently the satire was not picked up on by some people. Ronnie Kasrils devalues the hard-won secret ballot that has cost lives and years of imprisonment for some, house arrest and loneliness for others. It is a precious and rare privilege to have a vote. It may be the only silent but powerful voice most people in many countries will ever have. It is out of reach of most people in the world. To cry “spoil it!” is to reduce it to something expendable. Destructiveness and violence is surely what we hope to grow out of. Desecration encourages brutality and disrespect. Surely he can think of a more creative and constructive way to make his mark – or not, as the case in this case may be.
Immature and counterproductive as I consider his tactics to be, Kasrils’ motives might be sound: to stop the flow of gravy if not the train. However, even as I disagree with his strategy I surely have to defend his right to embark on it. Is that not the whole point of a democracy? “I disagree with you but I shall defend with my life your right to disagree with me.”