It doesn’t often happen that I find myself moved by politicians’ statements. To me it all sounds too much like platitudes, which I find particularly insulting since we so desperately need more than lip service in this country.  

So I was rather taken aback this Sunday when I read about Helen Zille’s statements on Father’s Day. News24 reported her views expressed in a DA newsletter and I swear when I read it I nearly jumped up and started clapping.

In her newsletter she states:

“Father’s Day is not a celebration of men who happen to have made a baby.  It is a day to celebrate men who are committed to being responsible parents.  Unfortunately, they only constitute about half of South Africa’s fathers.
Turning your back on your child is not a personal decision.  It has incalculable social consequences, and society therefore has a right and a duty to intervene.”

I really couldn’t agree more.

By society’s right and “duty to intervene” Helen is of course referring to the groundbreaking ruling that was made last week by Chief Magistrate Daniel Thulare that ordered Gauteng NPA director to pay outstanding maintenance money to a mother of three children.

According to News24 the NPA was being held responsible because it never appointed an investigating officer to follow up on the father who had stopped paying maintenance in November, causing delays in the mother's claims. This is a very positive development for women everywhere who are struggling with baby daddies who fail to pay child support.

Of course certain men are complaining about this ruling. Men who think their responsibility finished when they decided they’d had enough. Men who think their anger at their exes is more important than the wellbeing of their offspring. Men who’ve started new families and can’t afford their original families anymore.

Men who are, in one word, cowards.

I’m not saying for one moment that it’s easy to raise a child. I’m the youngest of four children and my parents made many sacrifices to provide for us and to give us the opportunities they had envisioned for us.

My father came home from work every day, went for a run or a paddle, had dinner with us and then took out his work for the long evening that stretched ahead. He never locked himself in an office, instead he did his work right there in the family room surrounded by children and pets and general family life. He took his job as a provider very seriously and he worked like a madman. Yet he always had time to make us feel heard and special.

My mom did the hands on child rearing and made many sacrifices of her own – not only sacrificing her time and effort, but also eschewing most earthly goods for the best part of two decades as all the money had to go into sending four kids to university.

In today’s South Africa raising children is even harder. For many, money is short and opportunities even shorter. It just doesn’t make sense to expect one person to raise a family by themselves. My parents worked as a team, but I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that if they had split up my father would have kept up his end of the bargain.

Which makes me one of the lucky ones.

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