As with the cabinet that he appointed Cyril Ramaphosa’s first 100 days in office with his own mandate has been underwhelming. Many voters voted for him and welcomed his victory with a wave of optimism and hope for economic renewal. However on the contrary Ramaphosa’s first 100 days in office have seen him battle multiple headwinds.
- The unemployment rate in South Africa increased to 29 percent in the second quarter of 2019 from 27.6 in the previous period. It was the highest jobless rate since the first quarter of 2003, as the number of unemployed rose by 455 thousand to 6.65 million and employment rose by 21 thousand to 16.31 million.
- Growth forecasts for 2019 have been revised down to a meagre 0.7% from 1.5% in the February budget speech.
- Civil War broke out in the ANC over the nationalisation of the South African Reserve Bank with the President’s voice having been drowned by political noise from the ANC ranks.
- The Public Protectors report into the R500 000 donation from Gavin Watson to the CR17 election campaign and her findings of him misleading parliament together with finding of money laundering have weakened his authority and ability to govern. This has been further jeopardised by her findings on Pravin Gordhan and the remedial action that she has instructed Ramaphosa to take. Although these reports have been submitted for judicial review there is still a cloud over the president.
- The recent upsurge in violent crime amid claims of xenophobic attacks, the increase in femicide and other violent crimes as demonstrated by the annual crime statistics as revealed on Thursday.
As we approach the start of the fourth quarter I agree with Dawie Roodt, economist at Efficient Group. who said “Sometimes I feel that Ramaphosa has not done enough to stamp his authority in government. He needs to be bold enough to make the tough decisions,” It would appear that he acting as an interim president rather than delivering on the mandate that he requested and received.
Violent protests that have rocked the country started midway through August and were marked by looting and attacks on foreigners but President Ramaphosa was silent. Shortly after a meeting with the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) in Johannesburg on the morning of Tuesday 3 September DA Leader Mmusi Maimane remarked in a radio interview “Where is the president? Citizens are here mourning. We are in a crisis at the moment when women don’t feel safe in our country … Where is he? He hasn’t said a thing.”
Ramaphosa broke his silence late on Tuesday afternoon and commended South African law enforcement authorities for their action which led to the arrests of two people for the brutal murders of Mrwetyana and Jegels and further said “This is a very dark period for us as a country. The assaults, rapes and murders of South African women are a stain on our national conscience.”
The situation was aptly stated in the editorial of Business Day on 3 September, “Ramaphosa spends far too much time abroad, at events and summits and making formulaic speeches to select audiences. Over the next period his priority should be right here at home. The government needs fixing; it is dysfunctional and a cause of escalating social problems”.
The country was crying out for leadership and needed Ramaphosa to step up, to get the government working and to speak directly to the people. Only on the evening of Thursday 5 September that the President made a pre-recorded address to the nation and even then the SABC broadcast the wrong address. He will address parliament for the first time on the subject at a joint sitting of both houses of parliament on Wednesday 18 September.
It is patently clear that South African law enforcement is dysfunctional and totally out of control. The Crime Intelligence is not functional and do not know what is happening on the ground. These criminal activities should never surprise the citizens let alone the authorities. The police always complain about the lack of manpower yet the Minister of Police revealed in parliament this week that the number of police reservists have declined to a shocking 8 908 from 63 592 nine years ago, a drop of 86% since 2010.
There are currently no DNA samples recorded for over 46 000 convicted Schedule 8 offenders because the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele will not prioritise the adoption of the Draft Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Bill which will allow DNA samples to be taken from Schedule 8 convicted criminals, which includes sexual offenders. This would ensure that SAPS is able to speedily identify any repeat offences should these individuals be released back into society.
SAPS needs a complete overhaul to root out corruption and incompetence in order to restore trust in the police. Only an honest and professional police service will keep our communities safe from violent crime. Any police officer found guilty of corruption must get 15 years in jail, and we need to retrain the honest police officers that we do have. Police need to display extreme professionalism in dealing with victims of crime and we need higher police visibility in crime ridden areas. In these circumstances the country should not spend R631m yearly to protect members of an inflated executive.
It is not the politicians who need protection now. It’s the citizens.
Margaret Thatcher once said “A crime is a crime that must be punished”. The South African government has to understand that it has now got to treat every crime, no matter how small, as a crime. This includes learners in schools who carry knives and threaten teachers or other learners, students who burn libraries or hostels at universities, residents who steal electricity and/or water are also criminals that need to be dealt with by the full force of the law.
Those politicians who have been involved in corruption and state capture must be charged and convicted. Far too many of these comrades are lounging on the benches in parliament while the Zondo commission trudges on its merry way with no end in sight.
All these criminals should remember that there actions are not protests but criminal activities. The true “comrades” will confirm that during the fight against apartheid schools and places of learning were not destroyed. But the ANC has allowed discipline, law and order, starting in the schools, to be overrun by lawlessness and hooliganism.
All efforts to attract investment, create jobs and build a working and inclusive economy to correct the socials ills in our society, will be done in vain if we cannot control the unacceptable levels of crime which affects all communities and businesses. Immediate and decisive action is required. If we don’t deal urgently and decisively with underlying causes of the economic and social problems then we are fooling ourselves if we believe that these incidents will not be repeated.
Many people voted for President Ramaphosa and not the ANC on 8 May because they trusted him to solve the country’s problems yet they have deteriorated further. It is now clear that Cyril cannot walk on water it now remains to be seen if he can deliver a New Dawn.
Until next time…
This newsletter is published by Clive Hatch former Leader of the Opposition in the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature and former DA Provincial Leader. These views are my personal views and do not represent those of any other person or organisation.
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