MP fights paint grim picture
THIS week, the National Assembly had to be suspended while the Serjeant-at-Arms and his staff separated brawling MPs and escorted them from the precinct.
This is not the first time that proceedings have descended into violence, but it is the first time that MPs have physically attacked one another.
Before, the house would descend into chaos when the EFF would protest against the presidency of Jacob Zuma.
This time, though, it was a member of the EFF taking issue with something that a fellow opposition MP from Cope had said.
Whether it was the forced ejection of MPs during Zuma’s abortive State of the Nation Addresses or the unseemly brawl this week, it is an ill omen for a house where free debate is supposed to be enshrined as the hallmark of the people’s apex forum in this the 24th year of our democracy.
Later this week, the IEC reminded us that the next general elections would probably be held next May, which of course is technically correct since the last elections were held in May 2014. The president can call an election any time before then.
We are about to be plunged into an election at a critical inflection point in this country’s history.
Wild claims, inflammatory statements – even calls to
(figurative) arms will be made, as parties do their damnedest to exhort their members and others to go out to vote.
The problem is that just as the stakes have rarely been higher, so have our tempers rarely been as frayed or the schisms between us quite as stark.
If politicians cannot debate without literally punching each other in Parliament, what hope do we realistically have of a peaceful electoral campaign, to say nothing of an election that is free and fair, especially of intimidation?
This country needs leadership – right now.