2007-01-14 : Mbeki’s war on crime

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2007-01-14 : Mbeki&#8217;s war on crime

Postby GOSA » Mon, 2007-01-15 10:18

http://www.sundaytimes.co.za/PrintEdition/Article.aspx?id=358513

Mbeki’s war on crime

Xolani Xundu
14 January 2007

President finally admits that lawlessness could ruin SA and vows to crack down

PRESIDENT Thabo Mbeki has promised “every effort” to make 2007 a year in which the scourge of crime is decisively tackled.

Mbeki finally acknowledged in his statement presented at the ANC’s 95th anniversary celebrations in Witbank, Mpumalanga, that crime remained an obstacle that, if not dealt with, could undermine the ANC’s efforts “to ensure that the country is able to realise its social and economic potential”.

The government had until yesterday been evasive and defensive about the level of crime.

In a harsh speech delivered on Friday, Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi warned that the 2010 Soccer World Cup would be a “monumental flop” if South Africa did nothing to counter international perceptions that the country is a criminal haven.

“South Africa, unfortunately, is perceived in many parts of the world as a criminal haven. A walk down London’s Regent Street or Sydney’s Oxford Street will, sadly, provide ample anecdotal evidence to support this perception,” he said.

“The recent appalling crime statistics illustrate that the highly centralised system of policing much favoured by the ANC alliance is an abject failure.”

Buthelezi said policing should be “decentralised as a matter of urgency with a new and competent leadership”.

Buthelezi’s comments echoed the opinion of the African Union’s elite watchdog body, the African Peer Review Mechanism, which has urged South Africa to make the fight against violent crime its top priority.

In a hard-hitting confidential report that is due to go to heads of state this month, a panel of African elders warned that crime, poverty, unemployment and the political domination of the ANC threatened the stability of South Africa’s hard-won democracy.

Yesterday Mbeki told thousands of ANC supporters at the party’s anniversary rally: “This scourge [crime] has continued to bedevil our young democracy. Though progress has been made in gradually reducing levels of most categories of serious crime, crime continues to impact severely on the quality of life of our people.

“Our response needs to be well- considered, effectively co-ordinated and comprehensive,” said Mbeki, who was sharing the stage with the party’s top five officials, including his party deputy, Jacob Zuma.

“It also needs to be sustainable and its progress measurable.”

Mbeki said the ANC recognised that the police and government agencies could not fight crime alone, “and that it requires the involvement and active participation of all communities and all sections of society to meet this challenge”.

He went on: “During the course of 2007, we need to make every possible effort to decisively tackle this challenge, drawing on the resources and capacity of all sectors of society in a united front against crime.”

The ANC would undertake “an extensive mass campaign to mobilise communities to assume leadership in the struggle for peace, stability and safer places to live”.

In his wide-ranging assessment of the ANC since it came to power in 1994, Mbeki again appeared to be joining Cosatu’s criticism of the black business elite. He referred to what he called “the destructive effects of the relentless pursuit of individual self-enrichment at the expense of the broader development and progress of society”.

He said: “Our people are daily told — through the media, through advertising, through forms of cultural expression — that their sole concern should be the accumulation of personal wealth and the display of the associated trappings of affluence.”

He said that as millions of South Africans sought to escape poverty there were some who “suggest that the natural extension of this important social objective is the exclusive activity to amass as much personal wealth as possible”.

He continued: “There are similarly some who continue to suggest that such avarice arises from efforts to deracialise the economy and specifically the benefit that black economic empowerment is purported to have brought to a small group of black businesspeople. We need to counter both of these contentions.”

Mbeki said the pursuit of personal wealth “to the exclusion of all else is not an unavoidable corollary of the efforts of our people to lift themselves out of poverty.

“Similarly, the pursuit of personal wealth to the exclusion of all else is primarily a consequence of the social and economic relations that developed under colonialism and apartheid ...

“Contrary to the values and norms that we inherited from the apartheid past are values and norms that have also resided among our people and which have held together our communities from ancient times up to the present.

“These values contained in the world view we know as ubuntu ... emphasise society, community and family."

Mbeki said the values of “selflessness, social consciousness and solidarity are what define the cadreship of our movement" but he also mentioned "the emergence of opportunities for members of the ANC to occupy positions of responsibility and influence, many with access to resources.

“We have also pointed to the corrosive role of corruption in the erosion of democracy, public confidence, good governance and social stability,” he said, adding that the ANC “must vigorously counter all corrupt practices”.
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