Times of Swaziland SUNDAY,
7 April 2002, p.16
WHAT sociologists call the 'Replacement Theory' - which is the art of relocating blame to a convenient scapegoat - is what politicians do in practice.
Unfortunately, this is exactly how Swazi politics have inculcated and promoted the 'victim' culture because things should not be what they seem or what they really are but what 'they could have been if so and so hadn't done this and that.' In short, a problem cannot be blamed on the specific maker of it because 'somebody else' created the conditions that made it inevitable for the problem to be caused.
The rise in crime is blamed on the laxity of police not the crooks; lack of jobs is blamed on the foreigner not the unskilled citizen; increase in prostitution is blamed on poverty not loose morals on the part of the practitioners; foot and mouth is a disease squarely blameable on the government for paying poor regard to the welfare of the 'struggling' farmers; even homosexuality is blamed on the missionaries.
Before we knew it, we have found that more and more people feel less obligated to be accountable for their actions and to accept the consequences of their conduct because our dear politicians, eager to twist reality in favour of scoundrels to remain in the popularity charts. Just this week we heard that the Mbabane City Council management was being blamed for dismissing an employee who had offered a bribe to a manager so that he could get a loan.
In the hands of the accusers, 'this poor employee' was desperate and they find it hard to understand what had gone into the head of this 'cold-hearted' manager to take such a 'drastic' step. So the Council can be blamed for underpaying this 'poor employee' which is why he found it 'inevitable' to use a bribe to try secure a loan. The manager who, to all intents and purposes was discouraging corruption, should be condemned to the moral guillotine for lack of empathy, at best or, at worse, downright victimisation of an innocent worker.
On Friday the Times of Swaziland published a brief report from parliament about senators 'praising' a woman for dumping her child at the RFM hospital. "She did not throw her into a pit - latrine at least," surmised Walter Bennett. Senator Thab'sile Mavimbela quickly ventured to find other 'excuses' that could have led this 'poor woman' to abandon her baby in the arms of an unsuspecting stranger.
"One of them is poverty," she said helpfully, which, to large measure, implies that the government should create enough jobs for people like this. In other words, 'do not blame her, she is a victim of circumstances created by others.'
Now, this is patent political nonsense. It is the kind of baloney that really makes my blood boil.
How do we, as society, expect to discourage this appalling practice - especially these days when statistics of these cases are soaring - if our lawmakers will not merely commend people who throw away their babies but go on to find justifications for it?
That this woman was a bloody fool who brought an innocent child to this world only to discard it is enough to arouse the anger and contempt of the devil himself.
Our own government has spent millions in subventions of numerous non-governmental organisations all trying to preach to people not to have children they have not planned for, least of all, if they have no capacity to raise them-basic common sense.
Our hospitals are overcrowded and so are the jails; there are no spaces in schools and no jobs even for well qualified university graduates. It is said all the time, yet the bums we have for politicians still think we should 'understand' why people continue to have children they cannot, and shouldn't, have.
Thursday evening I attended a most rewarding meeting of parents to children who attend the Baha'i primary school. It was an eye-opener and how I wished all the principals and teachers of all the schools in the country were present. It was refreshing to hear of a school whose paramount objective is the inculcation of virtues in the young, over and above procurement of colourful end of year results.
One of these virtues is "responsibility": that children should not merely acknowledge but also own up to their mistakes and stand accountable to the ramifications of the decisions they make. This is the message a whole lot of our adult population, especially politicians, need in this country. Searching for excuses and groping for scapegoats can only prolong problems, confuse and complicate solutions.
But I guess the culture would stop the moment we rid ourselves of professional politicians who will always skirt the truth and compromise the facts where their popularity is at stake.
©Copyright 2002, The Times of Swaziland (Africa)