In­tol­er­ance is taint­ing our so­ci­ety

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

ONE OF the great­est free­doms be­stowed upon us by our con­sti­tu­tion is the free­dom of ex­pres­sion. Today, more than two decades af­ter our lib­er­a­tion from a racist op­pres­sion, it has al­most be­come fash­ion­able to take this and other free­doms for granted.

The free­dom of ex­pres­sion is ac­com­pa­nied by the free­dom of as­so­ci­a­tion and the free­dom of be­lief.

They are an im­por­tant tri­fecta forged in the caul­dron of the Strug­gle against apartheid where all of those were de­nied by the Na­tion­al­ist govern­ment, des­per­ate to pre­vent any chal­lenge to their regime.

Peo­ple couldn’t be­lieve what they liked, and they cer­tainly couldn’t say what they be­lieved for fear of be­ing pros­e­cuted and jailed.

Many coun­tries in Africa, trag­i­cally, are still like this. We are not. We stand like a bea­con for Africa and the world, where we can say what we like and be­lieve what we want.

This free­dom is con­strained by the rights of oth­ers not to be harmed. The be­liefs we hold may not in­cite racial ha­tred, and they cer­tainly may not pro­voke war.

We can call on our pres­i­dent to step down. We can say he is cor­rupt. Equally, we can stand up for the pres­i­dent, we can ar­gue his in­no­cence.

The one thing we can­not do is pre­vent peo­ple from speak­ing, ei­ther through in­tim­i­da­tion or vi­o­lence.

SACP leader Solly Ma­paila faced Umkhonto weSizwe vet­er­ans protest­ing out­side his home this week, threat­en­ing him for the stance he has taken against Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma.

ANC MP Dr Makhosi Khoza has asked her party’s chief whip for se­cu­rity af­ter re­ceiv­ing death threats – al­legedly from el­e­ments within the ANC Youth League.

How far have we, as a so­ci­ety, fallen when de­bate and dis­sent are not even tol­er­ated among mem­bers of the same party, of the same fa­mous tri­par­tite al­liance that once lib­er­ated this coun­try and then gov­erned it for the past 23 years?

Those mak­ing the threats should be ashamed of them­selves.

They be­smirch the legacy of pa­tri­ots who were pre­pared to die for the free­doms they deny oth­ers.

Most of all, though, they should be pros­e­cuted and jailed, be­cause they’re break­ing the law.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.