End the tedious willy-waving. For all our sakes

South African women marched against high levels of gender-based violence in the country during #TotalShutdown. The issue came under the spotlight in parliament  during the state of the nation address, when EFF leader Julius Malema was accused of abusing wife Mantoa Matlala-Malema. Upon denying the allegations, Malema accused President Cyril Ramaphosa of abusing his late wife Nomazizi Mtshotshisa. There has been widespread critique on members of parliament using gender-based violence as a political weapon against each other. Picture: EPA/Nic Bothma
South African women marched against high levels of gender-based violence in the country during #TotalShutdown. The issue came under the spotlight in parliament during the state of the nation address, when EFF leader Julius Malema was accused of abusing wife Mantoa Matlala-Malema. Upon denying the allegations, Malema accused President Cyril Ramaphosa of abusing his late wife Nomazizi Mtshotshisa. There has been widespread critique on members of parliament using gender-based violence as a political weapon against each other. Picture: EPA/Nic Bothma

The Victims of Crime Survey for 2018/19 makes for depressing reading. The police recorded 52 420 sexual offences (the ones that were reported). Of the 497 093 incidences of assault, 256 488 were against women.

The survey didn’t specify gender in murder cases, but police data from 2017/18 indicate that 2 930 women were murdered that year.

These are serious statistics. They speak to the heart of a fractured nation – one that is struggling to pull itself out of dark and troubled times.

And then, in Parliament this week, we heard as two of our most senior leaders – President Cyril Ramaphosa and EFF leader Julius Malema – were accused of domestic violence.

I don’t want to think about the repercussions if these allegations are true.

So, let’s focus on the business of Parliament and how, when members of the House derail, important matters for what has been branded as political point-scoring, infuriate an already frustrated nation.

The state of the nation address (Sona) is important.It maps out the government’s plan for the country for the next year and gives us an indication of where we are going and how we can fix things.

People are gatvol. They seem to have Parly fatigue. Which is a sorry state of affairs, considering it is the epicentre of decision-making in this country. The lack of focus and the squabbling needs to end.

But, instead of hitting the ground running last week, we were forced to wait as playground antics delayed what turned out to be a flaccid Sona.

The ANC’s Boy Mamabolo accused Malema of hitting his wife, and then invited him outside to “sort things out”, like pimple-ridden schoolboys going to fight it out on the quad.

Malema – after threatening to sue Mamabolo for defamation – turned the focus on Ramaphosa.

“The president has got a history of beating up his late wife and I am following it up. You came here to start personal battles without thinking of the implications. If you want to fight like that, that is how we fight,” Malema said.

On Tuesday we waited again as the debate on the Sona was derailed when Mamabolo and Malema had another little brawl. Insults flew, threats of lawsuits were made, and members of Parliament came under fire for “weaponising” domestic violence to score cheap political points.

Ramaphosa was the voice of reason on Thursday and apologised to both Malema and South Africans for the way things unfolded. Like a kid caught picking his nose, Malema said he was sorry, too. Mamabolo has also apologised. All was good with the world.

But the question remains: Is there any truth to the allegations? If so, do we really want men who abuse women making decisions that affect our lives?

Read: ‘Nomazizi must rest in peace’ – Malema accuses Ramaphosa of abusing his late ex-wife

Either way, we have to ask ourselves how seriously our decision-makers take the commitment to creating a better country in which all people can live freely without fear.

If the list of City Press’ most read articles online this week is an indication of the real state of the nation, we are in trouble.

It is more like a list of the authorities’ failures – crashed plane should have been replaced two years ago, tax increases, retrenchments, failed state-owned entities, corruption, how job cuts have devastated a community.

The article about Malema accusing Ramaphosa of abusing his late ex-wife was low down on the list, coming in at number 17.

People are gatvol. They seem to have Parly fatigue. Which is a sorry state of affairs, considering it is the epicentre of decision-making in this country. The lack of focus and the squabbling needs to end.

The “real” state of the nation address happens next week when Finance Minister Tito Mboweni will deliver his budget speech.

Let’s hope there will be better focus, more solutions to fix the country’s economy and less of the willy-waving that has become so tedious.


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