Press release: A wounded Nation led by wounded leaders: The violent conduct of Members of Parliament should trouble us all
The actions of members of Parliament on the 06th of November 2018 are a clear indication of a wounded nation, led by wounded leaders.
CSVR is deeply troubled by the actions of members of parliament: Both the verbal, and physical violence that was exhibited by MPs are a microcosm of an increasingly violent society. As a country battling with the scourge of violence, who then do we look to when the same violence plays itself within one of the key pillars of our democracy, our Parliament?
This incident raises concerns about established patterns of South Africa’s violent reactions and responses. While it is important that the incident be condemned, it should not be not be dealt with as an isolated incident but as a symptom of a systemic problem in our country. It also raises serious questions about leadership in South Africa.
South Africa remains a country considered to have the best codified constitutional democracy. A key pillar of this constitutional democracy is a parliament that was elected through non-violent democratic means. It should thus concern us as citizens to see the members of parliament - elected to represent the people of the country and to act as the voice of the people - depict our voices in the kind of verbal and physical violence that we saw on the 6th of November 2018.
The failure of South African leadership to recognise these actions and previous violence by authority, as a microscope of larger national issues of violence, their own unresolved trauma as leaders and intergenerational traumas that continue to torment our society, means that this cycle of violence is likely to continue. The behaviour of members of Parliament raises concerns not only about the scourging rise of violence in South Africa, which is driven by a society of unhealed wounds, it also raises concerns about the kind of leadership needed within such a context.
Leaders generally, and members of parliament specifically, need to uphold professional standards to protect citizens’ political rights, the basic values and principles governing public administration, and oversee the implementation of constitutional imperatives. If not, their actions undermine the very notion of a non-violent South Africa.
Appropriate steps need to be taken to ensure that members are able to not only uphold their responsibilities but act in a manner that promotes peace and contribute to the prevention of violence. This calls for effective training, appropriate guidelines, effective leadership in de-escalating violent situations, monitoring and oversight, and accountability in the form of discipline where Members of Parliament overstep their mandate. It also calls for leaders who are willing to work on themselves.
For media enquires contact:
Thenjiwe Mswane - Communications Strategist
Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation