Are South Africans growing more and more intolerant with one another in spaces of debate? I ask this question taking into consideration South Africa's rich and painful history where the majority often, if not always found their voices to be heard through opting for violence because it was silenced from engagement and debate. And this is where we find ourselves, 23 years since the dawn of democracy. Our democracy is young compared to that of many countries both abroad and within the African continent. It is then no surprise that we often find ourselves divided along racial, political and gender lines but to name a few.
Where did it go wrong
Parliament has set the tone and perhaps echoed this developing trend of intolerance with one another when it comes to debate.
How often have we seen parliamentary sessions degenerate to name-calling, hackling, racial slurs, profanity and worse of all, violence (the spate of forceful removals of EFF members and often assault on their female members). Parliamentary sessions leave us grasping in awe every time and it is becoming apparent that this trend of intolerance seeks to entrench itself.
Last year the #FeesMustFall movement was characterised by brutal force at the hands of the state to bring "law and order". University management also followed suit and hired private security companies (at great cost) instead of providing a safe space of engagement. The violent outcomes at the Higher Education Forum last week Sunday did not come as a shock. Intolerance with one another has trickled down from the corridors of parliament to student formations. But then again, who can blame them for imitating their leaders?
Where to from here
The reality is that these occurrences are a sad representation of our society. A society that is on a highway to destruction. Somewhere along the journey we have lost one another and we need to find each other again and begin to talk to/with one another to find solutions to many of our socio-economic issues that plague us on the daily. If we fail, we are headed towards a society where all forms of debate and engagement have been forsaken and violence has taken precedence and has become the order of the day. Is that the kind of future we envisage for our beautiful land?