Ten days before the start of the African National Congress’s 2007 Polokwane conference, then challenger Jacob Zuma, in what appeared to be a public declaration of war against then incumbent Thabo Mbeki, said we must "declare a state of emergency on AIDS and crime".
When he reports back to the party’s Mangaung conference, he will focus, to an extent, on what measures he had implemented on crime and corruption, and their effectiveness. The fight against crime is one of the ANC’s key priority areas, and an issue its constituency cares about.
The Zuma government seems to have helped to bring down violent crime rates, but appears to be failing in the fight against corruption.
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Mr Zuma feels strongly about violent crime. In October 2009, he broke from the script of a prepared speech at the presidential hotline launch, to say: "This issue of crime, no one knows what to do about it ... when innocent people are killed, it makes me burn with anger, how as a nation can we let police die with their rights, while criminals walk away with their rights?"
This language came alongside plans, by then newly appointed National Police Commissioner Gen Bheki Cele, to change the police from a "service" to a "force". The ranks were to use military titles, as had been the case during apartheid. Critics claimed that Mr Zuma and former Gen Cele, who has since been fired, were "remilitarising" the police, and that a "shoot first, ask questions later" attitude would result in innocent people being killed.
The critics may now claim - after the Marikana shootings that saw the police kill at least 34 mineworkers - that they were right.
This year’s South African Police Service national crime statistics show that the broad reduction in "serious crimes per 100 000 people" has continued under Mr Zuma, but that reduction has started to slow. In 2004-05, there were 4851.7 serious crimes per 100 000; by 2011-12, there were 3608.7. However, the main decrease came between 2004-05 and 2008-09, with roughly a 25% drop. Since Mr Zuma came to office in 2009, it has dropped by about 8%.
It appears this slowdown in the reduction rate is a result of diminishing returns, rather than inaction by Mr Zuma. Growth in police numbers started under Mr Mbeki, and continued under Mr Zuma. The police officer ratio is now at about one for every 305 people, a figure similar to that of the US.
The increase in visibile policing, along with the deployment of experienced officers in key positions, have served to change public perceptions around government and crime. In Gauteng, there has been a dramatic decrease in cash-in-transit heists, particularly around the holiday season.
Article continues on page two: as violent and serious crimes have dropped, corruption appears to have risen quickly...