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UN report shows SA on slippery slope to doomed democracy

The Times Editorial | 2012-05-21 00:07:22.0

The Times Editorial: For the past few days, South Africans have been preoccupied with the very vexing question of a portrait of President Jacob Zuma.

The crux of the debate: whether an artist behaved in an inappropriate manner by painting a portrait of the president with his penis showing.

But let's move on from this storm in a teacup and focus on more significant matters - such as the state of this nation.

In today's newspaper, a United Nations report reveals a far more urgent matter to focus our collective mind on - the state of this country's children.

The relentlessly negative statistics are an indictment on the ANC government that, since liberation in 1994, has clearly not helped the lives of children to move on or improve.

The worst indictment in the report is that most of the misery children suffer is preventable - so it should not be happening.

These are the children outside the framework of government services - including the very basic rights to an identity document, to social services and grants and, perhaps most fundamentally, to the right to a safe childhood.

How can we begin to grapple with larger issues like job creation and stimulating economic growth when we have failed abysmally in the most basic issues, such as ensuring children of this nation are protected from harm and do not go hungry.

The problem of childhood deprivation is probably not a very sexy cause for media, civil rights organisations and politicians to adopt.

This is not about the preservation of middle-class expectations and rights - such as e-tolling. This is about a society that helps, that holds and that cares about each other. It is not about a group of people launching court action against a compromised police spy chief.

This speaks to our future in the gravest possible way. If we don't save these children, who will? If we wait for the government to deliver, we will see yet another doomed generation of young South Africans.

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