Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Monday, February 12, 2007

Thabo steps up
Well, Thabo Mbeki did what everyone wanted him to on Friday, acknowledging failures in dealing with crime and promising new strategies and tactics. According to the Sunday Times, Mbeki devoted 27 paragraphs out of 158 to crime and mentioned the word “crime” 16 times in his 18-page speech, compared with two in last year’s State of the Nation address.

We should see what these "new strategies" are in the coming weeks, but the same age-old challenge remains; how to ensure effective implementation. Government has had many good ideas in the last decade, but few have been effectively delivered through the civil service. Crime is of national importance that the initial focus of Government's efforts should find focus on the delivery of policing and prosecution methods, as opposed to the overarching strategies themselves.

In terms of commitments, Mbeki pledged that the ANC would:

- Increase the number of policemen to 180000 over the next three years;
- Bring operations of the Department of Home Affairs to full capacity;
- Implement the recommendations of the Khampepe Commission on the mandate and operations of the Scorpions;
- Intensify intelligence operations against organised crime; and
- Improve the analysis of crime trends to improve performance.

I think the Home Affairs capacity improvements are critical here, and I'm glad that Government sees it.