SA politicians have not learnt

2017-03-02 06:00

THE 20th anniversary of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) on April 15, 2016, passed without fanfare. However, Jacana Media published an excellent pocket history of the TRC written by Mary Burton, who was a commissioner.

The TRC, arising from the transition to democracy in 1994, had a specific and finite task: to probe atrocities committed during the apartheid era with the possibility of finding restorative justice rather than retribution.

Those who fully disclosed their part in human rights violations committed during past conflicts could seek amnesty.

Those who had suffered abuse or had lost family members had a right to know the truth.

Although there are many criticisms of the work of the TRC, it is generally recognised that dealing with these past brutalities was a crucial part in reaching some sort of national reconciliation. It is significant that former leader F.W. de Klerk and then president Thabo Mbeki attempted to prevent the publication of the final TRC report.

In the light of the recent brutal and totally unacceptable abuse of power at the Sona in Parliament, the record of the TRC is a salutary reminder that South African politicians have not learnt from the history of the past.

This deplorable behaviour takes us back to the draconian states of emergencies during the eighties.

Where is our hard-won democracy in all this?

It seems that one group of bloated, self-interested patriarchs, who have no regard for the rule of law, has replaced another.

MARY KLEINENBERG

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