Press Release (ePRNews.com) - CAPE TOWN, South Africa - Feb 12, 2017 - So said one of South Africa’s senior elder statespersons, Archbishop-Emeritus Njongonkulu Ndungane, after prayerful consideration over the past two days following SONA 2017 in Parliament which was marked by obscenities and violence.
Archbishop Ndungane said it was ironic and extremely sad that this particular SONA had been dedicated to OR Tambo, an ANC stalwart who would never have stood by as the evening unfolded.
“In making these comments, we all need to bear in mind that evil triumphs when good people say nothing,” he said.
He added: “There are a number of issues emerging during SONA 2017 that should alarm South Africans to the core:
· “The current ANC leadership thinks it can deal with the present political situation militarily. It cannot employ the same kragdadigheid policies of the PW Botha era. I question the presence of riot police in the parliamentary precinct and cannot recall this occurring even under the apartheid regime;
· “The Jacob Zuma government has seemingly lost sight of the fact that 1994 ushered in a people’s Parliament where one could walk freely in its precinct. The ceremony surrounding SONA provided many ironies in this respect, not least that the ordinary people, represented by school children lining the streets, were lost amidst the might of the armed forces brandishing their weapons of destruction. While it is well and good to have pomp and ceremony on such occasions, the way in which the securocrats brandished their power was despicable;
· “On the doorstep of Parliament live people with no homes in communities in which law-abiding citizens barricade themselves against rampant crime. Seemingly government can afford several thousand police personnel and members of the SANDF to protect the privileged of our society, but cannot deal with the very issues that make people feel unsafe right on Parliament’s doorstep in places such as the Cape Flats;
· “While the drama of the fashion parade proceeded, with people in their “SONA best”, no doubt our citizens waited for them to show their intellectual and moral best. What we got were expletives yelled from the government benches, the sickening sight of white-shirted securocrats beating up members of the opposition, and arrogance from the speaker of Parliament and the chairperson of the National Council of Provinces;
· “The manner in which the moral compass of the government has been lost was well illustrated when the Democratic Alliance asked for a minute’s silence in memory of the 94 mental health patients in Gauteng who died after they were transferred from Life Esidimeni Centre to various NGOs by the Gauteng Health Department. That this was refused by the speaker says much about the general callous and uncaring attitude of the present government. What would it have mattered if this had been graciously allowed and embraced?”
The Archbishop said that Oliver Tambo, in whose honour the SONA was delivered, would have recoiled from its shamefulness.
“Tambo was a committed Christian and Anglican who would have entered the priesthood had he not responded to the call of the ANC to go into exile.
“And amidst this all, our president giggles. How sad. How tragic. How terrible for a movement such as the ANC which was a great party made up of responsible people with reputable leaders to lead it. How ironic that its current leaders don’t understand this, instead allowing the party to begin to disintegrate.
“So we have a president who eventually reads his script, after his giggling attack, and has no connectivity within the context of the mayhem he has just witnessed.
“South Africans deserve better than this. Oliver Tambo would have understood that. So too would have Nelson Mandela. Our present leaders lack the integrity of our past great leaderships, and their actions on Thursday evening and in the days immediately after it vividly demonstrate that they care little for their heritage and that our constitutional democracy is under threat,” he concluded.
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