Parliament: [Dis]honour and the Point of 'Collapse' Before 'Order'

2014-11-16 18:18

The past week has borne images and verbal exchanges in the 'honourable house' which are to be deplored by our politicians and the general public. Safe to say, parliament has become yet another contested ground for political parties seeking to assert themselves at the expense of the South African citizenry. Its been fun and games for most viewers (myself included) up until now. The unfettered and boisterous tone of the EFF has imparted itself to the rest of the parliamentary caucus, in what was meant to create a robust atmosphere for debating topical issues affecting 'our' nation.

Sadly, most of these topical issues are of the ruling party's ineptitude and recurrent malpractice, throughout all levels of governance, with the apex being our President. The response of the ruling party to call on police into the legislative house signals a turn for the worst in my view. In monopolizing the use of force (SAPS), the South African government is setting a dangerous precedent in its ethos as to how it conducts not just parliamentary sessions, but in general operations throughout the state body. As much as Baleka Mbete sat defiantly in the speaker's  chair, deviating from the agreed agenda, exuding the ignorance/arrogance of a Home Affairs official, I'm unsure whether she realizes the disservice she gives to the house and the country. Being that she's congruently the ANC chairperson as well as a Parliamentary speaker, she by default, is unsuited to the position. This is still compounded by her authoritative conduct of sessions anyway. Still, however, she is only a symptom of a larger and more disconcerting trend by the ANC

Revelations by the Sunday Times have pointed out apparent National Executive Committee meetings which took place in September, just a month after the EFF caused the now famous ruckus, embarrassing Jacob Zuma in the process. it seems as if requests to "pay back the money" have been responded to with payback of a more severe kind, as the NEC meeting was attended by MP's who were told by the president to

  "Stop being accommodating and to crush the opposition.....the time has come for us to boldly use our majority to assert the right we were given to govern by our people.....we cannot and should not be bulldozed by smaller parties. We should guard our position and space jealously and lead. The ANC commands more than 60% support in this country. We are stronger than many ruling parties in the World  

More than anything else, this quote reveals the true beast that the ANC has become of late. The realization of its power to control and subdue opposition parties could be the catalyst for utilizing it to do the same with dissent in smaller forms come the future. Zuma's penchant for displays of power have come to a pivotal point, where humiliation and constant jeering are to be met with the monopoly of force at his and the party's disposal. I often refer to my the writings of Frantz Fanon in his work - The Wretched of the Earth, when veering off into heated discussions with my lecturers and classmates. South Africa seems on a strong course to replicate other African nations after independence in the near future, responses between opposition and the ruling party, have played out in much the same fashion as described by Fanon, leading to contested, and ultimately failed states. The Pitfalls of National Consciousness have given way to excesses of state power and looting. Political opposition has grown restless and somewhat militant, leading to aggressive responses by the state. All of this Fanon writes, comes from the tumultuous political history most African states experienced prior to achieving independence.  The culture of violence in South Africa may be no different.

The realization of monopolistic force (SAPS and the SANDF) the ANC has now resorted to, has dire consequences for South Africa's future prospects in governance and societal relations. If a house, central to the constitutional rights of orderly inquiry and debate, is compromised, the rights of everyday citizens are also in [potential] jeopardy, as representatives of various constituencies, and thus the voices of the people, are silenced. This already follows dubious meddling in other arms of state supposedly meant to be free from political interference or control - like the NPA. It is from the latest display of unfettered authoritarianism I'm left to question, will South Africa play out to the tune of Fanon's polemic, becoming yet another Fannonian tragedy? I certainly hope not, even if what is happening rings true to his prediction, where:

This tribalizing of the central authority, it is certain, encourages regionalist ideas and separatism. All the Decentralizing tendencies spring up again and triumph, and the nation falls to pieces, broken in bits" (Fanon: 1965: 148)

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