By Melanie Nathan, May 07, 2012.
South African ANC Member of Parliament Nkosi Patekile Holomisa is in the hot seat; he is faced with a conflict of interest, a controversial issue and a remark that renders him unfit to serve in any elected and appointed positions.
The comments followed a submission by the House of Traditional Leaders to Parliament’s Constitutional Review Committee, proposing the removal of the constitutional provision protecting individuals from being discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation.
Holomisa, also chairperson of the Constitutional Review Committee, was reported stating:
“the ANC knows that the ‘great majority’ of South Africans do not want to promote or protect the rights of gays and lesbians.”
What is so profoundly disturbing about this comment is the fact that the very purpose of protection clauses in a constitution is so that minorities are protected from majorities who supposedly do not care. That is the very reason sexual orientation is protected in the Bill of Rights.
The very purpose is that people like Patekile Holomisa who have no respect for the minority in question can cause them no harm. It is ironic that he should make such a statement in the context of a discussion to remove the protection of the rights of South African LGBTI people, who comprise a minority.
With that kind of talk is Mr. Holomisa suggesting that only majorities should have rights under the Constitution?
ANC Chief Whip Mathole Motshekga has spoken out against the remarks and the discussions to alter the constituion:
” The ANC believes that any law which denies people the right to their sexual expression devalues them in our broader society and as such is an affront to their dignity and a breach of Section 9 of our Constitution.
The South African Constitution and its Bill of Rights remain the “cornerstone of democracy in South Africa” and Section 9 of the Constitution is viewed as one of the core values of the Constitution. It guarantees equality for everyone before the law and this equality includes the full and equal enjoyment of all rights and freedoms. Our Constitution is clear that “the state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth”.
The opposition DA party is calling for Holomisa’s apology.
Watty Watson MP, DA Chief Whip says “It goes without saying that this proposal, and Holomisa’s utterances, have no place in an egalitarian and progressive democracy such as ours. Honourable Holomisa must apologise. His deeply prejudiced views undermine the values of equality, dignity and freedom on which our democracy is based, and for which so many fought so hard for.”
What flows from this is not only Nkosi Patekile Holomisa ‘s flagrant disregard for the gay community in South Africa, a protected minority, but also his disrespect for the South African Constitution as a whole. This is tantamount to spitting in the face of the true democracy which South Africa fought so hard to attain.
Holomisa has a duty to uphold and respect the Constitution, not to defecate on it – he should be fired!
“The Constitution is there to protect all rights duly entrenched; hence you cannot take away a right already entrenched for any single group – by doing that you set a very dangerous precedent and endanger each and every protected group – accordingly rights cannot be subtracted they can only be added.” Melanie Nathan, [email protected] ; @melanienathan1
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Chief Patekile Holomisa is is an advocate (lawyer) of the Supreme Court, an MP for the ANC, a traditional leader, chairman of the joint Constitutional Review Committee and Chairman of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (CONTRALESA); Founding member of PISA – parliamentary Institute.