Why is this fact so important and how will it relate to this column? Well, I am using this fact because South Africa had a moment to regret just a day before May 18 which would have been Sisulu’s birthday.
Tuesday May 17 saw our hard-fought-for democracy take a serious knock when speaker of parliament Baleka Mbete unleashed unidentifiable men, who are apparently parliamentary security guards, on members of parliament from the country’s youngest political party and the third biggest political party in the country, the EFF. The physical removal of the EFF parliamentary members was a low point in our more than 20 years of democracy that saw blood and sweat for us to attain.
When the EFF first came into the political arena it made a bit of comedy, but the comedy is no longer funny. It is fast becoming tragic and we should be very worried as the people of this country.
That kind of sorry behaviour is the kind that is making our revolutionary ancestors like Sisulu, Nelson Mandela, Robert Sobukwe and Steve Biko, among others, roll in their eternal spaces with disgust. This is not the kind of behaviour these men would ever have allowed in parliament.
What we saw on that fateful Wednesday will go down in history books as the saddest day in our democratic parliament. The august house was disrupted and disrespected, and every leader who was there, starting with the president himself, will be judged very harshly by history for what happened on that infamous day.
That day we saw democracy being interrupted and disrupted. That day we saw apartheid-type methods used against members of parliament with the president of the country in the house and not doing anything about it.
What’s going to happen next in that house? Are we going to see blood flow or, even worse, have a member of parliament killed?
How did we arrive here and how do we get out of here? This is certainly not good for our country, especially now that we are going into the local government elections that are likely to define our not-so-young democracy.
The mood in the country is getting more and more sombre as we have heard of political violence already rearing its ugly head in KwaZuluNatal. As a country we have come too far for us to lose track, as is currently evident.
If we don’t stop this, we are not only going to lose respect from our immediate neighbours on the continent, but the whole of the global village that had always hailed us as a model democracy that managed to come from what could have been hell.
It cannot be that we could manage a safe transition from a regime that had always regarded the majority as sub-human and that now we are the ones fighting against each other, in parliament of all places.
In the last few months we have seen situations whereby students were fighting and keep on fighting for their rights to study with the Fees Must Fall movement. As we know, there were instances where such protests could get out of hand.
Lately we have seen the people of Vuwani in Venda burning schools and barricading roads as they protested against poor service delivery.
All of that is very wrong, even though people can justify their actions as being from anger and being tired of being overlooked.
But imagine if the same government telling these people to stop fighting and burning schools is the same government that does nothing when members of parliament from the opposition are being physically and violently ejected from the National Assembly? How are the people supposed to behave when the leadership is doing nothing, as something as wrong as that is happening before their eyes?
The members of parliament anywhere in the world are supposed to be role models of those they serve, the masses of their respective countries.
So, why are we not seeing this in South Africa, the country that saw blood and sweat before finally arriving at a smooth transition from apartheid to democracy?
If we are not careful it will be too late by the time we take our heads out of the sand.
It is time we stopped this or we will just be like all those countries that allowed anarchy to rule before ruining the lives of their people.
We have the capacity as a country to correct these ills as we have done before, but it starts now.