Any reasonable observer would think that the governments of the Western Cape and Cape Town would celebrate with the people of the Cape Flats as the Anti-Gang Unit takes the fight to the gangsters and drug lords who have terrorized them for so long. Yet it appears that the DA, like the proverbial turkey, cannot vote for Christmas, because good news for the celebrants is bad news for turkeys.
But the panic is about more than just the launch of the Anti-Gang Unit or the resurgence of the ANC under President Ramaphosa; it is also about the chaos in the City of Cape Town with the resignation of Patricia de Lille and several senior DA councilors, as well as brewing corruption scandals in Tshwane, Johannesburg, Knysna and George, among other metros and local municipalities governed by the DA.
The cynicism with which the fear of crime is fuelled and manipulated by the DA knows no boundaries.
The first cynical act by the DA was abdication from the fight against crime. “Crime-fighting is not a provincial competence,” was a consistent refrain over the last 10 years. There was not a single attempt to explore the scope allowed by Section 206 of the Constitution, so successfully utilised by the provincial ANC government before them, with cooperative structures set up with the police, justice, intelligence and communities; with the 200 high-flying gang and drug lords targeted and jailed, often under tax laws; with the full activation of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act to act preventively against gangs and crime; and with community structures and volunteers established under the name Bambanani Against Crime.
The second cynical move by the DA was denunciation of the crime fighting forces themselves. They invested much time and money in a Commission of Inquiry into the fitness of the very police who stand between the people and the criminals. When a government passes a vote of no confidence in its police force, that same police force cannot win the confidence of the people they must serve.
The third cynical step by the DA is prevarication. As President, Ramaphosa was engendering hope and confidence in people across South Africa, including in the Western Cape, the DA grew more desperate, lest the people here placed their confidence for the fight against crime in him. The DA desperately clutched at some successes to claim, but then remembered that ostensibly they had no role in crime fighting. They then competed with their EFF partners for the Most Populist Award by demanding that the South African National Defence Force – the army – be brought on to the streets of Cape Town to fight crime.
They were simply demanding something they knew the ANC would not do given our own experience in the townships at the hands of the apartheid army. Did they play high-stakes in exploiting the instincts of a fearful people and sacrifice principle?
Their final and desperate act of cynicism is the recent attempt at manipulation of people’s fear of crime by betting on their premier candidate, Allan Winde, obtaining visibility and electability by becoming MEC of Community Safety. As the blamer and complainer in chief about crime, the DA is banking on a rise in crime translating into a rise in fear translating into a rise in visibility for the premier candidate. Can they really work from a thesis that rising crime is the way to become visible?
However, at the beginning of November 2018, President Ramaphosa called them out on their abdication, denunciation, prevarication and manipulation by launching the Anti Gang Unit to great acclaim by the citizens of Cape Town.
To great acclaim they welcomed the President’s undertaking to reinstate Bambanani Against Crime that the DA had dismantled.
So why would the DA unleash JP Smith on this initiative? An already collapsing DA cannot afford that the centrepiece of their electoral strategy should also implode. Without the fear of crime the DA cannot survive. With the Anti Gang Unit becoming successful, the DA is irrelevant.
The DA’s game is up. DM
Ebrahim Rasool is former Western Cape Premier and SA Ambassador to the US and is now Western Cape ANC Election Head