Did you hear that ladies' panties were part of the melee in the National Assembly yesterday? I certainly didn't until I came across that piece of salacious intel in one of our more risque tabloids. It did lay bare, pun very much intended, the lowbrow nature of the National Assembly. (lowbrow adjective not interested in serious art, literature, ideas, etc. : relating to or intended for people who are not interested in serious art, literature, ideas, etc.)
If there is an idea that captures the imagination of both Houses of Parliament, it is their obsession with their perquisites and privileges, at the expense of everyone else. The broken record of our outrage at their ever rapacious designs on the Consolidated Fund have fallen on ever deafer ears. We have made our peace with it, though; now we face the unedifying spectre of honorable members making crass allegations regarding ladies' underwear!
The ostensible reason for the fracas in the National Assembly was the draconian nature of the Security Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2014, and the manner in which the Majority Party's use of its Tyranny of Numbers guaranteed its passage. There are also allegations that strangers from the Senate, the other House, had infiltrated the National Assembly with a determination to disrupt its proceedings. (A Senator is on record that as he was being impolitely ejected from the chamber, one of the Serjeant-at-Arms' men proceeded to rip away a chunk of his trousers.)
The more plausible reason is that our parliamentarians are a reflection of our degree of tolerance towards each other. Even among members of the same family today, it is common to find siblings or spouses fighting viciously with each other over relatively minor matters. Few are willing to listen or consider opposing viewpoints, even when they could be best served by them. What is happening in our homes, our places of work, our pubs and the sporting arenas is reflected in the manner that honourable members deal with each other. The same style of violence employed by their electors is the same style of violence they chose to apply against each other over the Security Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2014.
The triumphalism of the Majority party is of a piece with the triumphalism of bad winners, careening around like sailors on shore leave after a long voyage at sea. The Majority Party has its Bill. It is time that they considered the implications of what they have done. When the rain falls, it doesn't fall on one man's housetop, so Bob Marley said. Today, the Majority Party is triumphant. One day, when Jubilee has been consigned to the kiddy pool, the strictures enumerated in the Bill will come to visit night terrors on its proponents. In a police state, not even the loyal party apparatchik is safe for long.
The Minority Party has covered itself in as much shit as the Majority Party. Some of the Minority Party's loudest hecklers have lost whatever dignity they had before they became parliamentarians, having forfeited their right to think to their party leader. They are an embarrassment, frequently shown up by more measured members of their tribe who choose to keep their mouths shut when piping up is of no value. Parliament now has members who find edification in penises and underwear. Civilised, did I hear you say? Civilised, my ass!