Anti-crime letters to flood Parly
Johannesburg - Thousands of protest letters about crime will be delivered on Tuesday to the steps of Parliament for the attention of President Jacob Zuma, shortly before his response to the State of the Nation address.
Dirk Hermann, deputy head of Solidarity, said on Sunday that a campaign was launched on Friday to get South Africans to send an e-mail to Zuma to highlight the severity of the crime problem in the country to him.
This happened after Zuma, in his most important speech as president yet failed to provide concrete plans to deal with South Africa's biggest problem: crime.
Only 2% (120 words) of his speech of about an hour was spent on how his government will be fighting crime this year.
Hermann said on Sunday that Solidarity wants "thousands of South Africans to stand together against crime".
"We want to send the government a clear message that we won't rest until crime is the number one priority."
10 000 letters
According to Hermann, people can send their e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org. They can also send a letter via the website Dearpresident.co.za. Those who do not have access to e-mail or the internet can SMS the word "crime" to 35960.
Solidarity will print the e-mails and deliver them to Parliament.
They're expecting about 10 000 letters. By Sunday afternoon, more than 1 400 letters had already been sent.
Between the 1st of January and Monday, Beeld has reported about 25 South Africans who've been murdered.
On Sunday, on the eve of the debate about Zuma's address in Parliament, the Democratic Alliance and the Freedom Front Plus both spoke about their disappointment regarding the fact that Zuma had not presented concrete plans for fighting crime.
"The honeymoon is over and the president will be tackled about why he only lightly touched on this serious problem," warned DA MP Dianne Kohler-Barnard.
"South Africans are tired of the shenanigans in his personal life; they want clear goals."
Approval ratings down
Pieter Groenewald, FF+ MP, feels Zuma's comments are nothing new, and the expansion of the police service is already part of the medium-term plan.
"The standard of policing should rather be improved," he said.
Susan Booysen, political analyst at the University of the Witwatersrand, feels that Zuma's had two setbacks in a short time recently - the news about his 20th child and his State of the Nation address.
"His approval rating among South Africans has probably dropped by 5% over the past week. The government will have to do some serious damage control this week. Zuma should have been braver and announced some clear goals," she said.
'What more can he do?'
Vincent Magwenya, Zuma's spokesperson, wanted to know on Sunday what more the president could have said.
"Crime fighting is one of the government's top five priorities.
"Zuma can't announce a new crime fighting plan every year, people would say he's inconsistent," he said.
"Just because he didn't mention something in his State of the Nation address, it doesn't mean the government isn't paying it any attention."