How quickly we forget

Peace-time revolutionaries are wont to remind us - between beating their breasts on public platforms - how our martyrs sacrificed their blood to water the tree of freedom.

Peace-time revolutionaries are wont to remind us - between beating their breasts on public platforms - how our martyrs sacrificed their blood to water the tree of freedom.

In the struggle for freedom, it is common cause that thousands of people laid down their lives so we could savour the fruits of freedom today. Surely this is deeply embedded in our collective consciousness and kept as a covenant with ourselves - individual South Africans - that we dare not allow our country to descend into the abyss of the gory past.

Most saddening though is to observe how soon we forget and act in ways that negate or rubbish the same ideals we fought for and on which our democracy is founded today.

Our fallen heroes must turn in their graves at the sacrilegious erosion of our democracy by the crass actions of politicians in KwaZulu-Natal.

On Monday, a parliamentary sitting in Vryheid disintegrated into chaos when angry exchanges between ANC and IFP culminated in the flinging of chairs.

A commendable effort to take parliament to the people by KwaZulu-Natal politicians turned into a comic public spectacle punctuated by brinkmanship, insults and threats of violence. On Tuesday, the IFP, ACDP and DA staged a walkout, saying the imbizo was a waste of taxpayers' money and a "propaganda campaign on the part of the ANC".

Needless to say, the parties' buffoonery makes a mockery of the business of parliament and, worse, undermines its integrity.

But the greatest danger posed by the political brinkmanship is the potential polarisation of communities whose wounds had healed after the internecine political violence which racked the province in the decade before 1994.

Under threat now is the peacemaking groundwork that stabilised the province and paved the way for a new era of political tolerance and rapprochement.

It is perturbing that the KwaZulu-Natal politicians seemingly fail to appreciate the mammoth responsibility placed on their shoulders to maintain the foundations of peace and to guide the province to a prosperous future.

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