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Common nuisance in our legislative houses

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.

Through violence you murder the hater, but you do not murder the hate. In fact, violence merely increases the hate. Returning violence for violence merely multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.’ – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

These wise words echoed in my head last week as news of a violent act was reported from our parliament.

The one thing that sets us apart from other countries in our 50 years of independence is that we are a peace loving nation. We subscribe to the notion of peace, botho and tolerance and these values have carried and sustained us this far.

No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders; surely we must all know that by now, least of all, by men and women who purport to be our leaders! Lately we are seeing a disturbing trend where people elected into office are behaving in a manner not befitting their statuses as ‘honourables’.

Did I mention that we stood in long frustrating queues in October 2014 to elect these same people? Truth be told, legislative violence is not a new thing. It is a fairly common occurrence in countries with history of armed struggles, inequality and oppression.

Of recent, this practice is now becoming a daily thing in the neighboring South African parliament. Every week reports of their not so entertaining acts of disobedience in their parliament make news headlines.

You would be mistaken to think that you were watching a wrestling match gone bad when you see them screaming, cursing and jumping around on television. Sometimes it gets so bad that the powers that be end up shutting down the live coverage.

Most of the time we just laugh everything off, because it really looks like a circus. Only it is not funny anymore because our very own legislatures have now copied the trend.

Granted, the confrontational nature of politics and the high stakes often add to the simmering tensions. It started with one councillor of the ruling party some months ago in Kweneng region, where in a fit of rage allegedly head-butted

his opposition counterpart during a full session of council.

This time around it is a member of the opposition hurling a bottle of water at a member of the ruling party in parliament.

When probed further, the aggressor regretted that he had in fact missed his target, that his missile had been aimed at a certain minister, also of the ruling party.

That the matter has divided the nation is not in doubt. This now happens all the time where politicians are concerned. The biggest problem with politics is that every single thing is debated and argued along political lines.  Once you are aligned to a certain party, naturally you defend everything that has to do with your party be it good, bad even downright stupid. Yes, even politicians make stupid mistakes sometimes. The only problem with this issue, and the one before it, is that here we are now not just talking bread, and depending on which side you align yourself with, poison issues. We are talking violence, and violence as we know, can quickly escalate.

But no one, not even small children need to be reminded that nothing good can ever come from violence. Political violence is even worse and often results in wars and unrest, the results that can be felt for generations to come.

Failure to condemn in the strongest possible of ways, these primitive acts by the two legislatures, I am afraid, will come back to haunt us some day. If nobody doesn’t hold them to account and remind them that legislative houses are worlds apart from local drinking holes in their constituencies where bar brawls are common, then we have a problem in our hands. Just what makes them think this can ever be tolerated?

A tale of blind men leading a legion of blind people perhaps? It would be a sad day if we ever took our peace and stability for granted.  It would even be more tragic if we allowed politicians, the very same people we put into office, to hold us at ransom. Boisterous raggamuffins belong on the streets, not at our legislative houses. Can somebody stress this enough already before we become another nation at war with itself?

Tumy on Monday



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