Editorial

Symbolism ripe as keeper of the peace retires

22 December 2019 - 00:15 By Sunday Times Editorial

Regina Mohlomi made history not only as the first woman serjeant-at-arms in the South African parliament - a position so steeped in tradition that it retains its archaic spelling - but also as one of the few people who could silence unruly MPs without raising her voice. The EFF's disruptions in particular must have made her life hell but, with minimal support from her male colleagues, Mohlomi was able to calmly eject the riotous rebels. Perhaps only a woman could do this.

Appointing a woman as record-keeper of parliamentary attendance and guardian of the mace - the talking-stick symbolising the authority of the speaker in the National Assembly - was not as much of a break with patriarchal tradition as it appeared. Women are natural peacekeepers. Not in the passive, defeatist sense but in the strongest and most forceful of ways. A UN Security Council report published 20 years ago encouraged the sending of women to war zones. "The presence of uniformed female peacekeepers has had a positive impact, challenging traditional ideas of gender roles and encouraging many women to enter the security sector," it read...

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