'This is not the SA we fought for': MPs critical of government ahead of Human Rights Day

Members of parliament argued on Friday that SA has little or nothing to celebrate ahead of Human Rights Day on Monday. Stock photo.
Members of parliament argued on Friday that SA has little or nothing to celebrate ahead of Human Rights Day on Monday. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/alexskopje

MPs have argued that SA has little or nothing to celebrate ahead of Human Rights Day on Monday.    

This as the Covid-19 pandemic has claimed the lives of 51,724 people.

DA MP Nazley Sharif argued that the ruling party had failed to uphold the Bill of Rights, which affirms that the state must respect, protect and promote the rights of citizens.

“The ANC has and continues to fail miserably in upholding and protecting the lives of citizens. It is the ANC government that continues to infringe and undermine these rights,” she said, as she pointed to the plight of health-care workers who work under difficult circumstances and the lack of solutions in the fight against gender-based violence.

“The ANC is complacent in perpetration of violence against women. It becoming more clear that the ANC government does not value human rights and its interventions are not working,” she said.

The FF Plus' Philip van Staden said the biggest violation of human rights which had taken place since the start of the pandemic was the lack of provision of PPE to health workers.

“We all know that corruption with PPE was sending health-care workers to the graves while the thieves are still walking in our streets,” he said.

EFF MP Veronica Mente expressed similar sentiments, touching on the recent student protests for free education, service delivery, load-shedding and retrenchments.

“When young people demanded free quality education as promised by them by the freedom charter of the ANC, the ANC government responded with brutal violence against the children.

“Many of those students were expelled from universities and now are forming part of the unemployed, many more were arrested and now have criminal records, for fighting for young African people to have education. Over 12 million are unemployed, we have government leaders who believe that more austerity measures and retrenchment of thousands of workers from the public service is a solution. What a shame,” she said.

IFP MP Siphosethu Ngcobo weighed in on the debate and pointed to the grand corruption which had taken place since the start of the pandemic, affecting the most vulnerable members of society.

“Those who suffer as a result of looting of state resources are human beings too. Those poorest of the poor who have nothing, while the rich swim in honey, are human beings too. Those who have no access to tar roads, those who drink water with donkeys and other animals, while others are having clean tap water, are human beings too. And we all know where the greatest looting takes place, throughout all the spheres of governments.

“Looting of resources that takes places at the national level has surprised us all, looting which takes places at provinces, is also very much surprising. The magnitude of looting in districts and local municipalities is horrible, to say the least. This is not the SA we fought for,” argued Ngcobo.

Those who loot or steal from the poor do not represent the ANC ... We should never pander to populism as a shortcut to dealing with difficult challenges.
ANC MP Gratitude Magwanishe

ANC MP Gratitude Magwanishe admitted that the Covid-19 pandemic had brought about many disruptive elements.

Among these was gender-based violence, which he described as another pandemic. He slammed those who looted state funds but argued that the country needed to remain united.

“Those who loot or steal from the poor do not represent the ANC. Whatever the challenges of  the moment are, we should continue to nurture the culture of human rights. We should never pander to populism as a shortcut to dealing with difficult challenges.” 

Good MP Shaun August said the issues the country was grappling with started long before the pandemic.

“It is challenging to celebrate human rights when the conditions in which so many of our people live we can describe as human wrongs. These conditions are not the pandemic's fault. What Covid-19 has done was expose the injustices bought by gross inequality.”

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