Human Rights Day? You must be joking!

2012-03-22 17:25

March 21st or Human Rights Days in South Africa was surreal. There was President Jacob Zuma reminding South Africans of how many homes the government connected to the electricity grid. Tellingly the figures of how many homes were disconnected on account of non-payment were ignored – leave alone those Johannesburg residents getting astronomical electricity bills from an inept municipality!

Not to be outdone by the President, Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale reminded his audience in Limpopo of human rights violations of American and British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. He, too, omitted how he failed his people resulting in five Limpopo departments coming under administration from the central government.

And whilst Zuma and Mathale talked, people across the country took to the streets in service delivery protests - torching schools, attacking councillors’ homes, putting up burning barricades, engaging in running battles with the police.

Far from uniting the country, Human Rights Day demonstrated just how divided we are as a nation.

The partisanship of the ANC was also exposed on this auspicious day. In attempting to gain a monopoly over the anti-apartheid struggle and thereby control over its legacy, the memory of other anti-apartheid stalwarts like Robert Sobukwe and his Pan Africanist Congress had to be obliterated.

This accounts for the cynical move by the ANC to move the main ceremony from Sharpeville (forever associated with the PAC) to Kliptown (forever associated with the ANC).

As we look beyond 2012 here is my wish list for human rights in this divided country:

• An end to violence against women and girls. Between April 2009 and March 2010 there were 63,500 reported cases of sexual offences, including rape, against women and children. The fact that it is estimated that only a third of cases are, in fact, reported is cause for concern.

• Police brutality and extrajudicial executions have to end. This is seen in the 860 deaths in police custody and the 920 complaints of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm received by the police oversight body, the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) between April 2009 and March 2010.

• Serious steps to be taken against xenophobia. The spiralling levels of violence against immigrants and refugees in the country are unacceptable and speaks ill of the kind of country and people we are.

• Serious efforts must be undertaken to curb corruption. Each year billions of rands are lost through corruption. Invariably, it is the poor who suffer the most. If we are serious of the slogan “A Better Life for All” we need to have real institutions having real teeth to ensure that those guilty of corruption, however high up they may be, pays the price.

• We need to end poverty. The surest way to end the scourge of poverty is to get people working. This entails opening up the job market through the deregulation of labour. For too long organized labour has held our economy hostage speaking for a privileged labour aristocracy – we need to be more concerned about the plight of the unemployed than those who already have jobs.

• Our media freedom must be protected at all costs. When Sunday Times journalist Mzilikazi wa Afrika is arrested for his reporting on an alleged hit squad involving senior members of the Mpumalanga provincial government it bodes ill for the kind of free society we hope to be.

• The targeting of individuals for their sexuality must end. The barbarous practice of “corrective rape” against lesbians needs to end. Government has to ensure that is made a priority crime and that perpetrators are given lengthy sentences to ensure that it serves as a deterrent.

If we can embark on these seven steps, I too will begin celebrating Human Rights Day as a proud South African!

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

AB praises selfless skipper

2010-11-21 18:15

Inside News24

 
/News
 

And the Paws24 and Hill's winners are ...

Find out who the winners of our Paws24 pet pics and Q&a competitions are...

 

Paws

Keep your family and pets safe from rabies
5 scientific benefits of owning a cat
Why we love cats
8 great natural remedies for your pet
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.