Don’t for­get to look be­yond the po­lit­i­cal cir­cus

CityPress - - Voices - Gayle Edmunds voices@city­press.co.za Fol­low me on Twit­ter at @GayleMa­hala

While the po­lit­i­cal cir­cus con­tin­ues to dom­i­nate head­lines and raise our col­lec­tive blood pressure – re­gard­less of which seat you have in the big top – the coun­try is not mov­ing for­ward. In fact, depend­ing on which seat you are in, it is back­slid­ing.

In this anal­ogy, the politi­cians are not the clowns. Don’t be fooled; they are the ring­mas­ters. While they call an ar­ray of press con­fer­ences to spin­splain an in­creas­ingly bizarre ar­ray of state­ments, counter-state­ments and half-ar­sed state­ments, the coun­try is idling. We must all protest, and we must all use our con­sti­tu­tional right to march and tell the public ser­vants (whose salaries we pay) that – to put it as one pro­tester did – “we are very up­set”. How­ever, be sure to look away from the po­lit­i­cal il­lu­sion­ists for long enough to see what they want you to miss.

Two weeks ago, a num­ber of women stepped for­ward to tell their sto­ries of be­ing raped and robbed while catch­ing taxis. This week, a wo­man was gang-raped by a bunch of men in a taxi, then she and her com­pan­ion were stoned and set on fire.

You’d think the SA Po­lice Ser­vice would call a press con­fer­ence to warn women about these kinds of in­ci­dents, and to ex­plain what the com­bined might of the po­lice force is do­ing to stop this from hap­pen­ing again. And to pos­si­bly of­fer a fol­low-up on ar­rests. But, no.

Look away from the ma­gi­cians’ sleight of hand to re­mind your­self that So­cial De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Batha­bile Dlamini has not yet ad­mit­ted ac­count­abil­ity for the grant cri­sis she cre­ated. So far, she’s filed an af­fi­davit us­ing the Shaggy de­fence again – “it wasn’t me”. If she doesn’t pay for her own cri­sis, we do.

An­other so­cial is­sue we should spend some time de­bat­ing is how 42 453 school­girls were al­lowed to fall preg­nant over the past three years. Then – if that isn’t shock­ing enough – how is it that 193 of them could pos­si­bly be in grades 3, 4 and 5? This is an is­sue I’m sure the de­part­ment of ba­sic education is de­lighted has been lost in the larger po­lit­i­cal hys­ter­ics.

The ring­mas­ters of this par­tic­u­lar cir­cus of out­rage are hop­ing that South Africans will pat them­selves on their backs and say they’ve done some­thing. We haven’t done enough.

When this cir­cus leaves town, there will still be a lot of work to do by ev­ery­one – to­gether.

If we are to deal with the in­equal­i­ties of our so­ci­ety eq­ui­tably and hon­estly, we need to move be­yond slo­gans to so­lu­tions that in­clude ev­ery­one.

Look away from the il­lu­sion­ists for long enough to see what they want you to miss

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