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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

'Poor governance has plagued SA, is one of its biggest human rights atrocities'

07 June 2022

It is no secret that South Africa is one of the most unequal countries in the world. From class to gender to race to sexuality, it seems that anything we could be unequal about, we excel in.

According to the outgoing South African Human Rights Commission CEO Tseliso Thipanyane, poor governance has plagued the country and become one of its biggest human rights atrocities but the question, here, is if that is our only problem. Is poor governance the only one to blame, or are we, as people in the country, just as to blame.
It seems that both are true for Thipanyane who says that dealing with the problems in adequate governance has been the most pressing things the Human Rights Commission has had to deal with in his five-year tenure as the commission's CEO.

The right to the access of basic utilities like food, electricity, water and schooling has become a gigantic macro-political failure where the commission has had to play watchdog to keep a failing governance in check.

This mismanagement of one of the most basic human rights that the state has to enforce for its citizens, for Thipanyane, has undermined our democracy from both the public and private sectors, keeping a promising country in a constant state of disarray.

Thipanyane, however, takes the matter deeper when he brings up a good point that not only is government failing us, but we are failing each other.

People in the country, especially women and children, live in a constant state of fear and a crippling anxiety because of the societal trauma we have faced both directly and indirectly by living in a country with some of the highest violent crime rates in the world.

    The state has a responsibility to [uphold] human rights, but also we as individuals have to uphold the law. You know, there's nothing as painful as coming or going somewhere else like Switzerland where you can walk at two o'clock feeling relatively safe and yet you don't feel safe in your own country.

    Tseliso Thipanyane, Outgoing CEO - South African Human Rights Commission

As a potential resultant for the egregious crime rates, we also have a large problem when looking at the general wellbeing of the country with more than 25 people dying by suicide per day in the country, says Thipanyane.

South Africans, Thipanyane goes on to say, are angry because of the state of affairs in the country, creating a rippling effect on the country where pure governance has turned the country on its head.

Its not enough to say that government is failing us, but that we are failing each other - as much as you can blame the state on the misgivings of the country, these crimes are being committed by people in the country and not boogeyman, show host Lester Kiewit and Thipanyane agree to.

The underlying issues that are causing these problems need to be addressed just as much as the problem itself and we need to start holding each other and government responsible for the state of disaster we find ourselves in on a daily basis.

    We are one of the most violent countries in the world at home, at work, in the streets, all over the show... despite what we say, you know, we have done well, but every time when I see the high levels of crime and poverty, I ask myself: 'have I failed as an individual, as a former leader of the Human Rights Commission?'
    Tseliso Thipanyane, Outgoing CEO - South African Human Rights Commission

Source: EWN

The South African Human Rights Commission.

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The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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