Papgeld: Show Targeting Deadbeat Dads Is Problematic

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As the show ‘No excuse, pay papgeld’ continues to gain momentum on social media following gut wrenching episodes, there proves to be more problems about the show itself; more than just men who blatantly dodge paying maintenance for their children. And this calls for immediate intervention from different stakeholders, including the channel.

On Saturday, the Moja Love channel’s latest episode left a mind boggling feeling after a father publicly expressed that he wouldn’t pay maintenance for his kids; something that has been seen numerous times on the show.

Meanwhile many of the show’s episodes always leave viewers dumbfounded, one can’t help but question what South African justice is doing to assist women who are at the peril with their ex lovers, who, due to numerous reasons including being bitter over the end to a relationship, resort to not paying maintenance for their kids.

Since the show first aired, many people have been hellbent on having it removed because it was a ‘moral decay’ smear aimed at black men. But, the question is, how are those many being targeted if they are the ones refusing to take responsibility? In most cases, the stories we see on this show indicate the measures these women first take to address the issue but when they exhaust them all, they are left with no choice but to seek other means of calling these deadbeats to account.

While the show has gained both criticism and appraisals, it is worth noting that some of their episodes also make them questionable. The show has aired numerous cases of underage girls being impregnated by older men, who then refuse to pay mainly. But, how such shows are even broadcasted since they possess criminal elements, specifically statutory rape.

In one episode, a 15 year old girl was impregnated by an elderly man and had to be represented by her mother on the show. Viewers questioned the stance of the show producers regarding matters of this nature.

It is understandable that the show is trying to bring to attention the injustices and social imbalances existing in the society, but what is then their role in escalating the matter to authorities when they come across such cases? It’s not their objective, that’s pretty clear, but are the producers only interested in numbers and not justice?

It is great having shows that seek justice for the voiceless but it’s also fair to hold them accountable when they appear to be in it for clout more than anything. Also, while these questions also remind us about the importance of accountability, I couldn’t help but notice how insensitive the presenter Dr Malinga is. His emotional intelligence capacity or lack thereof proves to be problematic in a case of dealing with such delicate matters.

Dr Malinga is an entertainer more than anything, and having him being responsible for leading a show that is heart wrenching as this one raises the question of how serious the show producers are, and what their main objective of the show is altogether. 

Malinga’s comments often could be interpreted as though the men are doing women a favor by paying child maintenance, something they should be doing because it is their responsibility.

It also points back to feigned victim blaming associated with the injustices meted out by men, women and children continue to be at the receiving end. Him imposing such a view on the matter displays how men, especially those considered to be influential, are also promoters of patriarchy that thrives at the peril of women.

If TV shows are to build the society through exposing injustices, the start would be learning about and applying social responsibility and accountability without chasing the numbers, unless that is their core intention and objective.

Featured image via Moja Love

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