Are we fighting the good fight?
We have repeatedly lamented about how we are suffering and being discriminated against in our democracy. And all of this happens while we have government departments and even our very own ministry that should prevent and reduce the affects of discrimination. But, it simply does not seem to happen. And when nothing gets done to alleviate people being prevented from participating on an equal footing, there is a tendency to rise up against the oppressor.
In our short democratic history SA has seen many uprisings. In some ways we have become used to it and even expect them. We have named ‘strike season’ for good reason. During these times, what we experience is basic human rights being neglected and ignored.
But is this necessary? Or worth it? I ask this on the back of the recent news reports about the Opposition against Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) that lead with the fact that more funds are needed to fight the case. That the case cannot continue if the legal fees of millions of rands are not paid. This puts a dampener on the whole saga. As noble as the cause might be, will negative reporting have a diminishing impact on our fight? Incorrect information can damage any movement. Propaganda can discourage supporters by getting them to doubt their loyalty. So, I encourage everyone who supports the movement against urban tolling, to stay focused, and to continue to support and contribute towards this unfair principle.
Recent reports detailed how a group of disgruntled people with disabilities protested against the lack of accessible public transport in Cape Town. The spokesperson for the bus company made excuses and blamed red tape, and their contract (which does not include universal accessibility). To me this all seemed wrong, as it was the protesters’ right to protest, surely the supplier should to listen and attempt to address their issues. Do I live in a dream world? Did I expect too much?
The ANC Youth League have shown how low they can stoop to get attention for a recent stunt showing up the lack of services in Cape Town. They really caused a stink (excuse the pun!) when their campaign against insufficient sanitary ablution facilities was dropped on the steps of the provincial legislature. Everyone was up in arms, saying “how could they?” and “they have to be prosecuted and taken to task”. They were reprimanded and their actions could never be condoned, but if one looks at the effect it had on the leadership of the province, it could be considered effective! It did make them take notice and listen. The Youth League representatives had a weak argument for why their campaign took on the format it did. But, they strategised, they dug deep and used the ammunition at hand. It was their resilience that got me thinking about all the fights that people with disabilities have to go to battle for.
All of this has made me contemplate whether we are doing the right thing. I do believe we are! If we need to call on everybody to join the fight against e-tolling, then we need to shout louder. If we need to foot the bill, then our hands have to reach deeper into our own pockets. We have to be on the forefront of every fight for the rights of people living with disabilities in South Africa.