COSAS - Are our kids all right?

2013-07-24 04:36

Some months back I had a heated debate with a friend from work about the need for organizations such the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) and uMkhontho Wesizwe (MKMVA) in our new society. My argument centered around the growing culture of patronage and entitlement in filling key government positions as repayment for political debt.

I was immediately attacked for being ungrateful and failing to recognize how both organizations were vital in the fight against an oppressive system from the early 60's to the late 80's. This is a legacy no one can deny, not even the most thankless 'born-free'. Though I wonder if history matters if it continues to hold us back.

So after the heat subsided from Barashenkov and Moroosi's incredibly tasteless jokes, the banning of Jahmil Qubeka's film, choking (corrective) rape statistics and global perversion of child pornography, COSAS' decision to take the law into their own hands effectively illustrated how divorced from public dialogue the student organization is, how even they are unhappy with law enforcement and justice in the country.  In my opinion their call to castrate rapists and fuel violence is similarly (if not more) inflammatory and reckless than any status update or comment on social media.

The idea of anybody forcing themselves onto another human being -for whatever reason- is disgusting and deserves harsh punishment. All of us have a role to play in efforts that aim to protect women, children and men against such heinous crime. So I agree that sexual violence has gone way out of hand, but I don't believe in substituting that with physical violence.

Its also quite easy to sentimentalize the days when COSAS held sway. In 1982, a mere three years after its establishment, the organization promoted the formation of youth congresses to serve the interests of young workers and unemployed youth. The student movement played a pivotal part in the formation of the United Democratic Front (UDF) in 1983 and they were present in all provincial structures. By '84, they had recognized the importance and need for student/youth participation in not only educational issues, but political ones. My colleagues assumption that I view them as the anti-Christ couldn't be more deranged.

Unfortunately, the pendulum is not set to swing back anytime soon, this realization has made some of us highly cynical. Today its castration and the acceptance of mob justice, how do we fight crime tomorrow? Will we torture homosexuals and sentence victims of rape to a hundred lashes? Let's exchange the Breitling for a sun dial. The dynamics have changed and we're now faced with new challenges.  The problem is as much rape as it is a drag on law enforcement processes and finding (and sticking to) non-barbaric ways to deal with crime. Has anybody informed COSAS about this and have they asked themselves why?

However the righteous indignation towards sexual violence and their contradicting solutions to the 'rape problem', education of constantly questioned quality and the disruption of teaching and learning due to protest is nothing new. Just seasoned with bigotry. The movement today moves further away from the Freedom Charter, despite the irony that COSAS was the first organization to declare its support of it. Have they also skimmed through the part where imprisonment is aimed at rehabilitating and re-educating perpetrators, not vengeance or are we abandoning the Charter all together? They have remained complacent in using apartheid styled methods to deal with contemporary issues but this isn't a surprise.

It was this year when schooling was disrupted at Morris Isaacson High School by COSAS. Not in opposition of forced instruction in Afrikaans, but because a fellow congress member had failed Grade 11 and was a victim of the pass-one-pass-all mentality. Their plans to stand against the 'ills of society' is simply tragicomedy, when the very techniques they use encourages them and re-affirms mediocrity.

What was once seen as a Mass Democratic Movement's (MDM) leadership pre-school has since become a hopeless mad house and judging by the kind of leaders they have produced in recent days such as Julius Malema, who was their President at some point, one can only throw their hands in the air and wonder if the kids are all right.

The elephant in the room: The reality that only 4% of child rapists are convicted and imprisoned, an adult conviction rate of only 3.2%, an average loss of R21,4 billion of taxpayers money since 1994 due to corruption and little or no accountability under the watch of a government almost worshiped by COSAS has had devastating consequences. Let's face it, their passive stance in fighting these matters has been unsuccessful and the results nonexistent

What can King Dalindyebo say that is possibly worse than the direction that Zuma is taking the country in? If they are so frustrated by the issues they've raised, they should start nowhere but within the ANC and reshift the focus in their own organization. If you think the publishing of matric results is inhumane and find no fault in the castration of some men (even criminals), logic fails you. Still I wonder, are the kids all right?

Do Follow me on Twitter: Thabo_SerokeY

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