I am not a fan of Gareth Cliff and never will be. I also don’t often discuss politics on my blog but have decided to make an exception this time.
If you are from South Africa, you would know that the Captain of our soccer team, Senzo Meyiwa, was shot and killed over a week ago at his girlfriend’s house. I had also never heard of him before then because quite frankly I am not a huge sports fan and I detest soccer. So excuse my ignorance as to who he was.
Last week Saturday, Senzo was given a state funeral. Buses and trains were made available to allow South Africans to attend his funeral and it was quite an affair. Thousands of mourners attended his funeral.
The question that Gareth Cliff tweeted and that was on my mind the whole of Saturday was simply:
“Who’s paying for the massive funeral for #SenzoMeyiwa?”
To my mind, this is a very valid question.
Senzo has been hailed as a hero and that is why he was given this lavish state funeral. Hero? Seriously? He was Captain of our soccer team which was, quite frankly awful, and always losing. He was murdered at his girlfriend’s house while he is a married man. I do not intend to pass judgement on him as that is not my place.
But why should I, as a taxpayer, contribute to his funeral? What is it exactly that makes him a hero?
Gareth Cliff has received quite a lot of flack and backlash for his question and has been called a racist. I cannot stand racism and would certainly not defend anyone who is a racist but I honestly cannot see how his comment is racist. It can only be because Senzo is black and Gareth, white.
I would however have asked the same question if it was a white sports person, such as Graeme Smith or Jean De Villiers, who were given a state funeral.
Daily as South Africans, we have to put up with poor service delivery; there is a shortage of medical supplies to our government hospitals, schools don’t have textbook and the list simply goes on. Let’s not even speak about the budget deficit. Our government does not have money for the things that we need but has money to pay for a funeral of a soccer captain.
If we, as South Africans, had a booming economy and growth, jobs, a working health care system and had surplus funds, then by all means go ahead and give our captains state funerals. But we don’t. This also leads to another question. Will all our captains be treated equally and be given a state funeral? Who determines who would qualify for a state funeral. As a tax payer, I would like to know this so that I can anticipate how much further our taxes will be increased (as the increase anticipated next year may not be sufficient to pay for the additional state funerals).
But lest me not question otherwise I will be called a racist.