POLITICS

There Is Something Spooky Going On In The ANC's Policy Documents And You Should Be Scared

There's not much about murder, but at least the terrorism threat is under control.

21/03/2017 18:21 SAST | Updated 21/03/2017 18:30 SAST
REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Delegates to the ANC's 2012 leadership conference, which re-elected President Jacob Zuma for a second term. The party's national policy conference is coming up in June, followed by a leadership conference later in the year.

Crime is no longer quite the political hot potato it was a few years ago (with the exception of farm murders), but that doesn't mean it's under control. National crime statistics for 2016 released earlier this month showed that armed robbery was up by 6.1 percent.

Although some crimes were down, the situation was still bad enough for acting national police Commissioner Lieutenant General Khomotso Phahlane to summon the 350 station commanders to discuss the situation.

The crime states are, however, unlikely to be up for discussion at the ANC's national policy conference in June — at least judging from the policy discussion documents prepared for it.

Even though the ANC Women's League has been a resurgent lobby in the party, especially in pushing for a female president, and even though this body sometimes issues strong statements or organise pickets around gender violence cases, the words "domestic violence" and "rape" don't appear in the chapter talking about safety and security issues.

It's not like these crimes are disappearing, although a crime like rape is apparently being recorded and reported less.

The "Peace and Stability" chapter, however, is mainly concerned with crimes against the state and reads like an intelligence report.

Whereas in the past this document did manage to mention policing, and although in this chapter there is some report-back on the white paper on policing from previous policy conferences, the focus is much more big picture — wide, sweeping conspiracy theories kind of stuff.

It warns against "foreign intelligence services" (or in the spook jargon, FISes) working with "negative domestic forces" to undermine the state and to "mobilise the unsuspecting masses" (ostensibly to rise up against high university fees and bad governance issues).

Incidentally, foreign intelligence services haven't always been bad. South Africa's agencies have long collaborated with these in intelligence-sharing and training, as was evident from the "spy cables" saga in 2015.

Tighter control over diplomats and stronger criminal sentences and controls to deal with these foreign spies, subversion and propaganda will be proposed by ANC delegates.

Threats to the authority of the state — like violent protests, cyber-security threats and "undue activities" of private security companies — are also in the document, with suggested topics of discussion on this being how to better enforce the Public Gatherings Act, how to improve effective intelligence and prosecutorial-driven investigations, and possibly categorising vandalism of public properties as economic sabotage.

Threats to the well-being and safety of South Africans are listed as access to water, food, and energy, international terrorism, violent extremism, transnational organised crime, and narcotics. At least the drugs and the access to water and food come close to issues that touch a good number of ordinary people in the country right now.

Immigration and Home Affairs have also moved to this chapter five years ago — a shift in emphasis from this as a governance and human rights competency to something that is now the steely grip of the security state.

Of course it's the ANC's party and it can cry over whatever kind of crime it wants to, but too much obsession about the security of the state and not enough caring too for the daily struggles of ordinary people, wouldn't make the ANC a wildly popular electoral prospect come 2019.

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