Crime – Should I stay or should I go?

A friend mailed to to request some advice on whether or not her friend should stay in SA or not, being seriously concerned about crime since visiting South Africans living in Perth. Herewith my response:

I cannot argue on the point of crime. If someone feels that the (crime) risk of living in South Africa is not worth the general quality of life we have here, then that is something I feel other people should not interfere with. The way I feel about it, and I don’t expect other people to feel like this, is that South Africa needs people like you and I to be here and contribute if it is going to have any chance of sorting out its many problems – crime being the most critical of all. I am willing to risk, if in the wrong place at the wrong time, being a victim of crime if it means I get to live here with my friends and family and be part of what this country is fighting hard to become.

Crime to me is about vigilance – we need to know and respect the fact that it is a major problem in our society and learn to live with it. If it is something one cannot come to accept, then that person cannot stay in South Africa. If, however, you can accept that we are required to learn to live with crime – and all that implies – then I believe we can live a safe and happy life in South Africa.

What do I mean by learning to live with it – well, are you daydreaming at the robots at 2am, instead of being vigilant about what is around you? Are you aware of those two dodgy characters walking toward you – if you are, something as simple as stepping into a shopping centre might be all that’s required to scare them off. Are you careful not to be on the beach, concealed from view of everyone else at night, perhaps distracted by a friend or companion? These are simple things, but they can mean the difference between being a victim of crime and not.

Now let’s be clear that I do not for a second condone the crime situation in South Africa, but I do suggest that being as serious a problem as it is, we either need to accept it exists and learn to live with it – learn to be as safe and vigilant as possible – or, if we cannot or will not, then South Africa is not going to be worth it for you.

This is a question only you can answer and nobody can ever hold you to account for your choice. Is South Africa and being in South Africa the most important thing, or is the relative safety of another country with less of a crime problem than South Africa more important. You answer will decide whether you stay or whether you go.

Warwick

Note: I included a copy of Steuart Pennington’s words on truth:

These are my truths (Steuart Pennington)

I have received so many mails recently regarding our current crises.
They force me to reflect on my own truths, rather than argue the merits of who did what.

These are my truths:

I am acutely aware of Africa’s problems and find them hard to defend.
I wasn’t aware that in black languages there is no word for “maintenance”.
I become angry when I read of the fracas in SA Cricket over selection.
I cannot defend the Judge Hlope debacle.
I become extremely impatient when I witness the hopeless incompetence of some in positions of authority.
I recoil with anguish when I visit the crèche in Soweto (which I have adopted) and see the plight of those living in poverty.
I am ashamed when I visit black schools to see how little they have.
I hate it when my friends refer to my compatriots with racist epithets.
I hurt when people, particularly the media, run this country down.

I am optimistic about our future.
I am proud of what this country has achieved over the past 14 years despite the contrary predictions of many.
I am learning that Africa is beginning to change for the better.
I am aware that English does not have a word that embodies ubuntu.
I love the warmth of African people and their ability to forgive.
I believe in our president’s and our governments resolve to deliver “a better life for all”.
I am in awe of the thousands of South Africans who toil, unsung, to help the less fortunate.
I am hopeful that Africa will have a better 21st Century that the previous five.
I pray everyday that I will remain proud of my country and that my actions will contribute to building a great nation.

And finally, I hope my optimism is firmly rooted in the reality of our progress and the goodwill of our people.

“I want to come home, but what about Zuma?”

I just recently got a mail from a buddy currently living on the grey, dreary, alcoholic and muddy island they call the United Kingdom:

“Im […] wanting to come back to SA permanently quite soon but I’m not so sure about it anymore with Zuma being voted in! What is your opinion? Do you think the country is going to go to ruins?”

I provide, for your interest, my response – and please note this is by no means a complete argument, but I thought it may be of interest to some:

Dude

Zuma has been voted in as president of the ANC. Mbeki remains President of the country and will be until 2009.

In order for Zuma to take over as President of South Africa (something which does not actually scare me that much), he has to be cleared of all criminal charges currently pending. He has fraud, corruption and racketeering charges laid against him and will be going to court in August 2008 to try clear his name.

The way I see it, if he is convicted of the above, then, well, he goes to prison. If he is cleared, then it is important because we would not want a State President with such a cloud over his head. Fact is Zuma is a popular, practical man. He’s a little stupid, but he knows he is no rocket scientist and to my mind that could well be a benefit – he’ll focus on what he can do and delegate the rest. This is certainly in line with everything I have read of the guy. I’ll tell you that I believe Zuma would do much more about the crime problem in South Africa than Mbeki has.

South Africa is not a Zimbabwe in the making and there are several reasons for this, but they are best explained in an article by a M&G journalist Jonty Fisher and my response (backing him up) to his position.

Take a look at my blog at http://www.warwickchapman.com/ and read: “M&G’s DG Report Summary” and “Response to the comments to Jonty Fisher’s ‘South Africa’s going the way of Zimbabwe’”. I would urge you to read as well Jonty Fisher’s original article at ThoughLeader, “South Africa’s going the way of Zimbabwe

The long and the short of it goes like this. This is the 21st century – the world over wants Africa to work. There are enough examples over the past 50+ year of what NOT to do in an African country. Priority number 1 is not to let any one lead become a leader for life. Unlike Zimbabwe, we have a population united around the limitation that our State President can serve a maximum of two terms (5 years each) as stipulated in our Constitution. Nobody is marching and toyi-toying to have Mbeki run for a third term as State President. Aside from being wildly unpopular for protecting people like Selebi and Manto, this is why Mbeki cannot be State President beyond 2009.

Priority number 2 (or even more important that 1) is an independent judiciary. Ie. Are your judges free from political interference. Again, unlike Zimbabwe, this is still the case. So our courts are free to judge against Zuma without fear of recrimination.

The way I see it, the future of South Africa is like the potential for shark attack when swimming out at backline. We all know that the chances of getting killed on the way to the beach are much higher than that of being attacked by a Shark, but nonetheless, thanks to Jaws, Jaws II, Jaws 2849 (ie. Zimbabwe and other shockers), we have this graphic image in our minds of the horror of being attacked, even though we know the chances are next to nothing.

South Africa is the 18th (out of 200+) most attractive destination in the world for foreign direct investment (read my blog “Excerpts from Manuel’s Mid-term Budget Speech (Delivered yesterday)”), we’ve made massive progress over the past 14 years (even if it is hard to see from day to day). We’re not going to throw that all away. Even the most communist of communist idealists in South Africa cannot deny massive progress has been made since then…

Come home kid. Rather take part in what’s happening here than rot on that sad, grey, muddy-ass island wishing you were here in the sun and fun.

K, shooting to the beach for a swim.

Ciao, Warwick

[Update: I came back from the swim and sent him another mail]

“Ok, I made the swim without getting attacked by a shark. It is ok for you to come home now.”

Response to Peter Mavunga article on the passing of Ian Smith

Written in response to: http://allafrica.com/stories/200711230160.html

Mr Mavunga

I’m white. My family is ex-Rhodesian. I was born in South Africa just after your country won it’s independence. Many people very close to me fought in the same war as you and your compatriates fought, only, they fought on the other side. I am a passionate and committed South African. I don’t believe in white rule and I don’t believe in black rule. I believe in a rule of a people by its own people. Race is a concept Africa needs to free itself of before you or I will see peace and prosperity on this continent.

You’ve wasted an entire article berating Ian Smith, Basson and others in order to paint a picture of gross racism and disrespect of whites for blacks while at the same time painting a pretty picture of the ‘innocent’ ZANU and ZAPU participants in the struggle. Are you forgetting Viscount? Are you forgetting the terrible torture, maiming, murder and intimidation of your own people by your own guerillas? I am about as likely to believe your propaganda aimed at us racist whites as I am to believe those black on black and black on white atrocities did not happen.

Peter, the war is over. The war was over nearly 28 years ago. Forget Ian Smith, forget Wouter Basson… Zimbabwe has more important priorities than redressing suspected crimes from decades ago. You have an economic and political crisis in your country. Your people are suffering under worse oppression than they have ever experienced before – they’re poor and hungry. Further, they’re subject to a more and more powerful government every day.

Absolute power currupts absolutely. Mr Mugabe has destroyed the Zimbabwe that your ZANU and ZAPU compatriates fought so hard to win in the 60’s and 70’s. It’s time to be frank with yourself and see through the misinformation. Robert Mugabe has ruled your country for nearly 30 years. The AU stipulates 2 terms maximum. He’s three times over the limit. The man has systematically extended his grip on total power over the country and in the process whipped the rug from beneath your economy, exacted gross human right abuses against his own people and consistently denied the opposition the freedom they deserve to campaign for a better Zimbabwe for all Zimbabweans.

I want to tell you, Peter Mavunga, to put up your hand now and say ‘I want a new Zimbabwe… I want a Zimbabwe where democracy is the only absolute power… I want to stand up and fight for that new Zimbabwe!’, but I cannot. I cannot ask you to do such a thing because your President and his compatriates will have you silenced. What now Peter? What now?

M&G’s DG Report Summary

The Mail&Guardian remains on of the most laudable publications in the South African media. M&G publish an annual report card for government departmental directors general (DGs) and today released the 2007 Directors General (DGs) Report Card. I have summarised the ratings below and highlighted some notable cases.

In summary, there are 14 DGs upgraded to or retaining a good rating, 2 who have been downgraded but retained a good rating and 9 who have been downgraded and have a poor to bugger off rating.  I regard as a good sign the four DGs who cannot be rated as they have not been in the job long enough – with any luck they have replaced someone who was not making the grade.

So, in my opinion, the above show progress is being made in ensuring that we weed out those DGs who are not getting results. Of great concern would be the 14 DGs who M&G rated as poor, and most especially the five of those who should be fired immediately. Let’s hope 2008’s rating card shows this figure decrease.

The rating card is as follows:

A: Take a bow. You are doing an excellent job.
B: Good, but room for improvement.
C: You’re OK, but that’s all we can say for you.
D: Get your act together.
E: Do yourself and the country a favour — resign.
F: You’re fired.

The following DG’s were upgraded or retained a good rating:

Education
Duncan Hindle
Grade: A (2006: A)

Foreign affairs
Ayanda Ntsaluba
Grade: A (2006: A)

Home affairs
Mavuso Msimang
Grade: A

Science and technology
Philip Mjwara
Grade: A (2006: B)

Treasury
Lesetja Kganyago
Grade: A (2006: A)

Presidency
Frank Chikane
Grade: A- (2006: B)

Environmental affairs and tourism
Pam Yako
Grade: B+ (2006: B+)

Social development
Vusi Madonsela
Grade: B+ (2006: D+)

Provincial and local government
Lindiwe Msengana-Ndlela
Grade: B (2006: B)

Trade and industry
Tshediso Matona
Grade: B (2006: C-)

Agriculture
Masiphula Mbongwa
Grade: B- (2006: C)

Intelligence
Manala Manzini
Grade: C+ (2006: C)

Labour
Vanguard Mkhosana
Grade: C (2006: E)

Minerals and energy
Sandile Nogxina
Grade: C (2006: E)

The following were downgraded by retained a good rating:

Public service and administration
Richard Levin
Grade: B (2006: A)

Housing
Itumeleng Kotsoane
Grade: C- (2006: C)

The following were downgraded or retained a poor rating:

Public enterprises
Portia Molefe
Grade: D (2006: B-)

Transport
Mpumi Mpofu
Grade: D (2006: B-)

Justice
Menzi Simelane
Grade: D- (2006: C-)

Defence
January Masilela
Grade: E (2006: C)

Communications
Lyndall Shope-Mafole
Grade: F (2006: E)

Health
Thami Mseleku
Grade: F (2006: F)

Safety and security
Jackie Selebi
Grade: F (2006: F)

Water affairs and forestry
Jabu Sindane
Grade: F (2006: C+)

Land affairs
Glen Thomas
Grade: Fired (2006: F)

The following are new and cannot be rated as yet:

Arts and culture
Thembinkosi Wakashe
Grade: Too early to tell

Correctional services
Vernie Petersen
Grade: Too early to tell

Public works
Manye Moroka
Grade: Too early to tell

Sport and recreation
Xoliswa Sibeko
Grade: Too early to tell

Excerpts from Manuel’s Mid-term Budget Speech (Delivered yesterday)

On delivery of social services:

“In 1996, just over half our people did not have water in their homes. Today, over 88 per cent of people have access to piped water. In 1996, only 64 per cent of our people lived in formal houses. Today, over 70 per cent enjoy this right. In almost every area of public service delivery, from access to schooling and health care to refuse removal, from electrification to access to computers, from roads and street lights to sport facilities, from telecommunication services to access to public transport – we can point to steady progress in living standards.”

On economic growth:

“South Africa is now entering the ninth year of the longest economic upswing since the national accounts have been recorded. National income has risen by 22 per cent per person since 1999, with increases across all income groups. Employment is rising faster than at any point since the 1960s. Fixed investment has increased sharply since 2002, by over 10 per cent a year.”

On being cautious with respect to the present global economic upswing:

“We need to welcome and take advantage of the opportunities of global growth, but we also need to distinguish temporary prosperity from structural progress; we need to ensure that windfall gains are wisely invested and surplus resources are set aside for when markets turn against us in times ahead.”

On this week’s Standard Bank equity deal with China’s ICBC:

“Last week’s announcement of a R37 billion investment by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China in one of our leading banks indicates that international confidence in our economy is high, and perhaps also signals a new place for Africa in the changing patterns of trade and finance flows of the 21st century.”