Crim­i­nalise all racist apartheid acts

CityPress - - Voices -

‘Ge­noeg is ge­noeg.” This was the ban­ner un­der which farm­ers and sup­port­ers gath­ered na­tion­wide to protest against farm at­tacks.

The protest was soon over­shad­owed by im­ages of protesters fly­ing the apartheid-era flag and some wear­ing T-shirts bear­ing im­ages of the flag, which set so­cial me­dia ablaze.

As if that were not enough, a video of protesters singing the old na­tional an­them, Die Stem, and burn­ing the new South African flag caused mass out­rage on so­cial me­dia.

But we’ve been here be­fore, haven’t we?

It is 23 years since we at­tained democ­racy and ma­jor­ity rule ended the op­pres­sive apartheid sys­tem. This mile­stone meant that any sym­bol which cel­e­brated the past be­longed in the past. But not in a demo­cratic South Africa.

The gov­ern­ment has not seen the need to crim­i­nalise dis­play­ing the apartheid flag in the same way that Ger­many has out­lawed the Nazi swastika flag.

By fail­ing to crim­i­nalise fly­ing the apartheid flag and the singing of Die Stem, gov­ern­ment is ham­per­ing the lit­tle progress that the coun­try has made in so­cial co­he­sion while sub­ject­ing apartheid’s vic­tims to re­newed trauma.

But our his­tory is such that un­der the rec­on­cil­ia­tory spirit of Nel­son Man­dela, we pre­ferred to set­tle these tran­si­tion is­sues through di­a­logue and con­sen­sus.

The laws ban­ning these sym­bols could have been eas­ily crafted then, but the ap­proach was to reach out and make ev­ery­one and ev­ery group feel part of the new South Africa. But the #Black­Mon­day protesters are piss­ing on this rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. They are un­do­ing all the dreams and val­ues that we hold dear. They are mak­ing the case for leg­isla­tive en­force­ment of the new South Africa. That might just be the an­swer. Enough is in­deed enough.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.