Picture: Phando Jikelo/ANA
As a young journalist many years ago, Parliament in Cape Town was out of bounds for people of colour like me. So you can imagine my excitement when, on a working stint in the UK, friends invited me to the public gallery of the august House of Commons in London.

It was my first opportunity to witness democracy in action in the finest British tradition.

I entered the House with great expectation - but left after about an hour, shocked and despondent.

The last time I had encountered such raucous and ill-tempered exchanges was when rowdy spectators clashed at a wrestling match back home in Durban.

The constant heckling, interjecting, booing and cross-talking in the House caused absolute bedlam.

How could grown men and women from the upper echelons of British society behave so badly? Did it have anything to do with the fact that state-subsidised bars in the House sell the cheapest booze in the UK?

Many Britons, however, seem to enjoy the scenes of unruly behaviour, with one Labour MP recently commenting: “They love it. They watch prime minister’s questions because it is the World Wrestling Federation without the subtlety.

“If there were blood pouring down the aisle, they’d be even happier.”

For a moment, I felt a sense of perverse relief at being dis-enfranchised, but vowed that when democracy did come our way, we would never allow our Parliament to degenerate into such a circus.

Well, democracy is here - and the circus is in town. So, roll up, roll up, for the greatest show on Earth. Come watch our daredevil ANC acrobats walk the political tightrope.

There’s never a dull moment - the EFF clowns will have you in stitches with their walk-in, walk-out routines.

Don’t miss your chance to see the DA’s snow-white poodles jumping the ropes; the dancing IFP elephants stomping through the sawdust; and the Minority Front’s Bengal tigers purring for attention.

Watching our parliamentary sessions on TV has become a torturous exercise and is slowly eroding people’s confidence in our maturing democracy. We switch on not to keep abreast of policy developments, but to be entertained.

I don’t want to sound like a killjoy, but what South Africa needs now are constructive and outcomes-driven debates that can bring hope and confidence in our country.

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