Looking back over the last few weeks it was with a deep sense of shame that many South Africans watched the 2016 State of the Nation Adress (SONA). What was on display was the disrespect that a few young members of the National Assembly have towards the vast majority of South Africa.

The lack of respect for the Speaker of Parliament, the President and the elders that were present in the National Assembly was breath-taking. Racists across the South African spectrum must have been very proud of the manner in which young Africans insulted and disrespected elderly Africans.

With points of order and questions of rules it was clear that a handful of half-educated scoundrels did not have any intention to allow the President to speak to South Africa. What was obvious was that the hooligans were excited and used the televised chance to seek self-promotion ahead of an election.

The disruptions had little to do with respect for the rules of order or parliamentary procedure or free speech. What the hooligans wanted was to display their empty political bravado to the entire world.

One could practically hear the mirth as young Africans that had little to do with the liberation of South Africa shamed their elders for the world to see. While the President struggled to honour members of civil society like the Black Sash, the hooligans would have none of it. One can only wonder what the people who struggled against Apartheid must have thought when their names were uttered in the hallowed chambers of parliament amid continues heckling. After wasting an hour of the SONA adress the hooligans left allowing the President to continue as if the disruption was normal African behaviour.

There was very little honourable about the SONA adress. While I have no reason to defend President Zuma, for the first time in a long time I felt sorry for the President. His words seemed hollow, as he struggled over his speech. Ironically the teacher Zuma was shamed by the apprentice he mentored.

Many years ago at a meeting between President Zuma and the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) Muslim leaders expressed their concerns about the behaviour of Julius Malema who was the ANC Youth League leader at the time. President Zuma calmly advice the Muslim leaders to give Malema time advocating that Malema would mature and become worthy. I wonder if President Zuma remembers the sincere warning that the Muslim leaders expressed about President Zuma’s, then apprentice.

In the words of the wise, if the behaviour of our elected leaders were echoed at SONA, then deep introspection of all voters is required. Since not of us are perfect at least mutual respect in a public forum should be considered the norm otherwise where do we go from there?

Cllr Yagyah Adams

Cape Muslim Congress