JOHANNESBURG – The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) has warned that the “normalisation of violence” in Parliament would have long-term repercussions for South Africans trying to break the cycle of violence in the country.
The organisation was responding to the chaotic scenes that marred President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address (SONA) in Parliament on Thursday.
“When violence becomes the norm as a way to resolve our problems, it eats into the social fabric of our society. This normalisation of violence is a concern…even if new actors are sworn in to power, the act of violence as a way to deal with issues will remain,” CSVR executive director Nomfundo Mogapi said on Friday.
Leaders in Parliament dealing with differences through violence was not a good example to citizens, she said.
“Female parliamentarians were manhandled by men in a way that bordered on harassment. We need to understand that gender-based violence is an enormous problem in South Africa, leaders need to set an example for the rest of the country. The use of violent force against women should not be accepted in either public or private spaces and leaders and people in authority should be held accountable for this.”
Zuma delivered the SONA an hour late to mostly African National Congress (ANC) MPs after the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus) members walked out of the house following the ejection of Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPs by security.
This year’s SONA was accompanied by a ring of steel around Parliament’s precinct, with more than 400 soldiers brought in to complement the members of the SA Police Service (SAPS).
Mogapi said the CSVR’s own research had found that South Africans were already dealing with the long-term emotional and psychological trauma from the impact of violence that came with the country’s history. These excluded the physical and financial implications caused by the country’s widening gap between the rich and the poor.
“Our political leadership has an opportunity to lead in breaking the cycle of violence in South Africa. How they deal with resulting crises will send a clear message to the rest of the country on the kind of society we want to be,” she said.
– African News Agency (ANA)