The ‘but’ problem

Johan van Zyl, Gordon’s Bay

I’ve wanted to contribute to this letters column earlier, and more frequently, but every time I get down to it, I find myself at a loss for words.

This is not due to writer’s block, but because of the intricacy of the social and economic problems we face in our everyday lives, as vividly reported in the various media. I would have loved to take a specific issue, discuss it and offer some solution. I cannot do it, because of the but… problem.

Consider: pupils at school should be better prepared for responsible citizenship, but… the curricula are inadequately designed and the teachers poorly equipped.

We should all pay for the services we receive from local government, but… if you don’t have a job and you can’t find one, how do you keep your finances in order?

Zuma should go, but… even if he goes, the parties who put him in power in the first place and who are continuing to sing his praises, will still be there. Take, for instance, the spate of vandalism perpetrated by protesters on the N2 near Lwandle recently.

This is merely one instance where displeasure was demonstrated by citizens because of a lack of service delivery.

Now, it might sound fine the way I worded it, but… in fact infrastructure was destroyed in the process, and to replace or repair the damage caused must run into millions. Every time I use that stretch of road I see the broken traffic lights and am reminded of the chaos and lawlessness that took place that day.

Now the protesters might have thought they were winning the favour and the sympathy of the onlookers, but in fact I was disgusted, and any sympathy I might have felt, gone for ever.

What took place on the road near Lwandle is but a repetition once more of the very many protests that have been taking place all over our country. I’m thinking that these rampant demonstrations have become a scourge to the country, festering ulcers that are breaking out all over and appalling to have to witness.

A politician recently declared that criminals have taken over the protests. I agree.

Overpopulation and accompanying stressful living is demanding of us that our courts adopt new laws.

I believe the time has come for acts of vandalism, for whatever reason, to be much more harshly punished.

When you smash the window of a business, knock out a traffic light, set fire to tyres on the highway, you are committing a string of serious crimes.

You are destroying infrastructure, you are stealing from everyone who has contributed to that infrastructure by means of careful planning, honest labour and taxpayer’s money.

These crimes should be labelled sabotage, and the penalty should then fit the crime. South Africa is slowly being killed by sabotage, and we are all dying with it.