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Pain has no race


Stats show that free abortions to which young girls are given legal access have devolved into a gross form of birth control

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A WhatsApp clip is hardly a platform for serious discourse on the dilemma of the chaos in schools. There are far too many learners in Mfuleni who have not been placed in a school, and who wait daily for unofficial space for “afternoon shift” just to get some schooling in for the day.

It is a sad indictment that many of the petitioners in the housing and land restitution arena will be outlasted by the slow wheels that turn the bureaucratic engine. People die of old age, with the empty promises ringing in their ears even as the angel of death calls out his summons.

It has become common to refer, in Afrikaans, to Dag Hospitaal as Wag Hospitaal. This I got from a pensioner friend who complained of waiting from 5am to be seen, if he was lucky, by the doctor 12 hours later. And then only to be told to fetch his medication the next week. Poor patient. Poor doctor.

His other complaint: And you must see all the white people who queue to be seen. It is this observation, more harmless than pernicious, that underpins this week’s column.

We haven’t learnt that pain has no race, that loneliness doesn’t have a colour, or that despair is not gender-specific. I heard Trevor Noah refer to our Constitution as the best in the world. Best for who? Hidden in the Constitution are gaps which allow too many breaches to our right to be treated like human beings who share the same country.

The issue of children’s rights is a classic example. Stats show that free abortions to which young girls are given legal access have devolved into a gross form of birth control. Children defy adults and lay charges and counter-charges that eat up time that the courts could spend solving other problems.

As my friend observed, previously-advantaged whites queue for free medical treatment and we struggle to maintain our humanity in allowing that they might be worthy of the state-aided treatment. We saw the tensions generated at the waterhole in Newlands during the water crisis.

Legislation and the needs of the people on the ground never meet around the same table.

The folks in the streets are required to absorb the tensions, resentments, unspoken questions and potential for violence while the fat cats read about their miserable performances in state-owned enterprises while earning bloated salaries.

Tolerance and recognition of each other’s worth shouldn’t be legislated or form part of an election manifesto.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni spelt out the grim realities. We should trim the fat; spread the load.

Those who claim that voting is futile should think again. We should see each other as fellow humans who can drive the change.