The unresolved plight of ex-combatants who were attached to various political movements remains a blight on our democracy.
Their plight has come under the public spotlight after reports that 1 000 self-defence unit members are protesting at a camp in KwaZulu-Natal, demanding to be integrated into the army.
First, it is scandalous that the issue has remained unresolved 12 years into our democracy. Worse, it is outrageous that they have had to resort to threats and other disruptive activities to attract the attention of the authorities. Clearly a consequence of being ignored by authorities.
Thus, before slamming the youths for their rowdy tactics, we should ask ourselves if anyone would have acted differently under the circumstances.
Blame for the youth's plight should be laid at the door of political parties that recruited, trained and used them to achieve their own ends. Inevitably no sooner had the youths helped the parties concerned fulfil their objectives than they dumped them, instead of helping them through demobilisation programmes.
Since an idle mind is a devil's workshop, it was no surprise that some turned to crime and masterminded cash-in-transit heists.
The disaffected soldiers have been reasonable enough to seek redress through dialogue, an opportunity that the government must grab urgently.