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By Kyle Zeeman

Digital News Editor


A VIEW OF THE WEEK: Old enough for power but too old to be embarrassed?

Respect your elders, we are told. But when will they finally respect us?


My three-year-old knows everything − or at least he thinks he does.

He has no problem trying to keep up with the “grown-up” conversation around him and sharing his opinions on how things should be. While it makes me proud that he is so confident, it is always balanced with respect for his elders.

Respect for those older than us is a social rule dating back to probably the time they held the ark door open for Noah to go in first. It is a crucial practice to keep society united and respectful.

ALSO READ: A VIEW OF THE WEEK: No country for young men and women

But what happens when those who should be getting that respect, abuse or misuse it?

It’s a question that SA had to mull over this week when former speaker of the National Assembly Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula handed herself over to police on corruption and money laundering charges.

She fought tooth and nail to prevent the embarrassment of an arrest and having to stand in the dock.

Here was someone who claimed to be the third most influential politician in the land, and a once overseer in ensuring justice as Correctional Services minister, sitting on an accused’s bench.

Appeals were lost and when she finally appeared in court, she argued her arrest was politically motivated and was meant to embarrass her.

She also spoke of the horror conditions in prison, which she admitted came from systematic failures that ultimately lie at the feet of the government she was a part of since the dawn of democracy.

While younger politicians were pushing for a seat at the table, she was moved around parliament and Cabinet.

For 30 years she had been old enough to have power, now she was suddenly too old for accountability.

ALSO READ: A VIEW OF THE WEEK: Which side is really running SA?

Prosecutors were right to take into account her age and health when not arguing against bail, but the reality outside the courtroom is one where the aged in power often neglect not only those as senior as them, but everyone else.

Nevermind old age grants not being paid because of glitches or those far more sick being neglected in public hospitals and state facilities daily, what about the elderly that had to move from their homes in Marianhill, KwaZulu-Natal, because of a gang that terrorises the area?

What about pensioners and citizens left without water or electricity for weeks because of failed oversight and maintenance?

Even in a season when political parties usually step up and deliver in the hope of hoodwinking citizens into voting for them, we find those in power politically, financially, and morally broke.

Human rights and dignity should be extended to all South Africans, not just politicians when allegedly caught with their hands in the cookie jar.

Respect your elders we are told, and teach our children. But when will they finally start respecting us?