Politi­cians favour their en­ti­tle­ment


Fik­ile-Nt­sikelelo Moya is an ex­ec­u­tive ed­i­tor at the Pre­to­ria News. Follow him on

@fikelelom HE PRES­I­DENT is en­ti­tled to se­cu­rity and some level of com­fort. The majority party is en­ti­tled to choose among its Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment any­one they wish to have as the Speaker of the House.

The majority party is en­ti­tled to use party dis­ci­pline to en­sure that their MPs vote for or against a mo­tion.

The of­fi­cial op­po­si­tion party is en­ti­tled to fil­i­bus­ter­ing if the majority party does not al­low for proper de­bate in Par­lia­ment.

The EFF is en­ti­tled to dress as they wish in Par­lia­ment be­cause there is no univer­sal rule that men must wear suits and ties.

I hope that even if you agree with any of th­ese, you will add a but…

For ev­ery­thing that has been said and can be said about South African MPs, they can­not be ac­cused of not be­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the pub­lic that sent them to Par­lia­ment.

Like us, they place their en­ti­tle­ment ahead of ev­ery­thing else.

Dif­fer­ent racial groups, men and women like to ac­cuse the other of hav­ing a sense of en­ti­tle­ment but truth is that we all have it. Our politi­cians, as they showed us last week, sim­i­larly have the same sense of en­ti­tle­ment.

We have politi­cians and not states­men in our midst.

Politi­cians are al­ways in­ter­ested in the next elec­tions and in keep­ing or tak­ing power, whereas states­men are in­ter­ested in en­dur­ing po­lit­i­cal lega­cies.

In many in­stances, they want power as an end to it­self and not so they can change so­ci­ety for the bet­ter.

Our politi­cians, across party and ide­o­log­i­cal lean­ing, would be left with noth­ing to talk about if by some mir­a­cle poverty, in­equal­ity and un­em­ploy­ment were de­feated. They would have noth­ing to sell the elec­torate.

They have over­stated the role of po­lit­i­cal ide­ol­ogy as that which keeps South Africans awake at night.

Again the words of Guinea-Bis­sau and pan-African­ist rev­o­lu­tion­ary Amil­car Cabral hold true for our politi­cians.

“Al­ways bear in mind that the peo­ple are not fight­ing for ideas, for the things in any­one’s head. They are fight­ing to win ma­te­rial ben­e­fits, to live bet­ter and in peace, to see their lives go for­ward, to guar­an­tee the fu­ture of their chil­dren.”

We could ask that the politi­cians start telling us how they in­ter­pret and see us liv­ing bet­ter and in peace, see our lives go for­ward and our chil­dren’s fu­tures guar­an­teed. That I think would be dere­lic­tion of our duty as cit­i­zens and pa­tri­ots.

You and I must fash­ion the tem­plate that we want our politi­cians to follow.

TWe must cre­ate and agree on common val­ues by which we ex­pect those who rep­re­sent us in the law­mak­ing houses to live by. This must hold true for the head of state as for the low­est back­bencher.

For in­stance, we must de­mand that those in charge feel a sense of shame when huge amounts of tax­payer money is spent in their back­yards or for their trav­el­ling ar­range­ments.

It must be a non de­bate that we can­not have a pub­lic rep­re­sen­ta­tive who is guilty of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence in his own home or stands ac­cused of steal­ing from the pub­lic purse.

We must get to a stage where racism de­nial­ism is treated in the same way as cli­mate change and HIV-causes-Aids de­nial­ism.

We would not have learnt any­thing over the years if we think that politi­cians will en­gen­der th­ese and other val­ues we might de­velop as a so­ci­ety.

As the ex­am­ples above show, politi­cians are in­ter­ested in what they are en­ti­tled to.

As cit­i­zens we are col­lec­tively re­spon­si­ble for this state of af­fairs.

We have ab­di­cated all our rea­son­ing and agency to po­lit­i­cal par­ties. We have given politi­cians the right to think that we serve them and not the other way around.

Po­lit­i­cal par­ties are not nec­es­sar­ily moral or eth­i­cal agen­cies. They are most cer­tainly not think-tanks.

Left to them, we would have a so­ci­ety where be­fore we agree or dis­agree with any­thing we would have to check the po­lit­i­cal lean­ings of the per­son say­ing or writ­ing.

We would have a sit­u­a­tion where decision on where and how to spend pub­lic money is premised on the po­lit­i­cal re­turns of that in­vest­ment.

So­ci­ety must take up the duty of cre­at­ing val­ues by which fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of politi­cians will be judged, re­gard­less of the ‘ism’ they es­pouse.

As cit­i­zens and po­lit­i­cal par­ties we can agree that the pres­i­dent should not have to live in a gar­den cot­tage or drive him­self in an en­try level Tata Indica; that be­ing the of­fi­cial op­po­si­tion must al­low for your voice to be heard; of course we must not dress in a cer­tain way sim­ply be­cause oth­ers be­fore us did.

Beyond all this, ev­ery­one in­volved must re­mem­ber that they are cre­at­ing a tem­plate for fu­ture be­hav­iour of those who will oc­cupy the same benches and live in the same so­ci­ety.

We must all ask our­selves whether the legacy of en­ti­tle­ment and in­dif­fer­ence is one we would like our gen­er­a­tion to be re­mem­bered by.

OVER­BOARD? As cit­i­zens we have to re­alise that we are cre­at­ing a tem­plate for the fu­ture be­hav­iour of those hold­ing high po­si­tions, which means that the Nkandla saga could pos­si­bly be re­peated.

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