Faith Daniels

The times we live in: #HandsOffPravin #FeesMustFall #RacismMustFall

2016-09-02 14:05

Faith Daniels

We are living in more than just interesting times. These are defining times. Things are swirling around so much, you find your head spinning on the best of days. Politics, social issues, matters concerning the economy, you name it – they’re all knocking on everyone’s door, screaming for attention.

Attention of the most pressing kind, I tell you. Because, you see, unlike any other time in our democracy, it’s not just the politicians who must make decisions about the future of the country – you and me, who’ve minded our business for the longest time, are getting involved. In fact, we are being forced to get involved because the issues are now landing on our doorstep.

Gone are the days of far-off wranglings that you think have nothing to do with you. Inaction is becoming less of an option. More and more, you will be pressed to pick a side.

Soon it will no longer be acceptable to be Switzerland. Because staying neutral will come with its own set of consequences. And wouldn’t you rather make your own choices than be saddled with a situation that you’re forced to accept?

Just take a look around you. Or consider the hash tags circulating on Twitter – #HandsOffPravin #FeesMustFall #RacismMustFall #ZumaMustFall. Thank goodness for topics like #Springday and #solareclipse. We are a serious bunch, and rightly so, because there’s been very little to laugh about in recent times.

As we move towards changing the country we live in, our children are leading the way. They are questioning the status quo with regard to school policies, they are changing ridiculous rules that have been applied for years. As our democracy changes, we are being made acutely aware of what needs to go, what needs to stay and what we can tolerate.

At tertiary institutions, students are persisting with the call that fees must indeed fall. And it’s making our government leaders nervous because, really, where will the money come from? Fact is, free education has been a consistent promise. And, as with all promises, there will come a time when it must be delivered. Our students feel that time is now. Because how on earth will you get away with an answer like, “There’s no money,” when wastage and corruption have become so commonplace?

In the ongoing public spat between the Hawks and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, we’ve seen prominent figures calling on ordinary members of the public to show their support for the embattled Gordhan.

On the day that two former SARS officials Ivan Pillay and Johann van Loggerenberg presented themselves to the Hawks headquarters in Pretoria to receive warning statements, retired Constitutional Court judge Johann Kriegler made the following plea: “I think they are entitled as human beings to the moral support of decent South Africans, who stand up and say, enough of this, we are on your side, we are on the side of the just and the good.”

Veteran advocate George Bizos explained that there’s concern about the future of justice and law in South Africa.  “Judge Kriegler and I and many others have fought apartheid for many years,” said the man who once defended Madiba and many other struggle stalwarts. “We are concerned that events of the past are being repeated. We stand by the Minister of Finance, we hope that the people of South Africa will stand by him.”

And if you choose to ignore all of the above calls, consider this – these issues will eventually turn into events that you cannot ignore. The e-toll saga, for one, will surface again for Gauteng motorists. And what happens when the government insists that drivers pay or be prosecuted?

The ballot box is probably the biggest way to let government know how you feel. But, beyond that, what will you do when the turmoil in our leadership ranks inevitably starts affecting basic service delivery and the way you live your life? How will you make your voice heard?

It’s more than an interesting time we live in. It’s your time.

- Faith Daniels is a seasoned radio and TV journalist, and is currently head of news at Kagiso Media’s Jacaranda FM and East Coast Radio.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.



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