Eradicating violence against women and children needs a professional Police service

The following speech was delivered today in Parliament by Democratic Alliance (DA) Shadow Minister of Police, Zakhele Mbhele MP, as part of commemorations for the 16 Days of Activism against violence against women and children.
The topic for today’s debate on 16 Days of Activism is based on the idea of a “whole-of-society approach” involving all safety stakeholders working in partnership to reduce violence against women and children. As the slogan of the Western Cape Department of Community Safety says, “Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”
Arguably the most important stakeholder in this safety partnership for a non-violent South Africa is the criminal justice system. It functions under the ambit of national government and is therefore a direct responsibility of the ANC as the incumbent governing party, though not for much longer.
Without firm commitments towards effectiveness and efficiency in the police and public prosecution services, the efforts of all other safety partners have limited effect at best and, at worst, are rendered impotent. Optimal functioning of law enforcement agencies is fundamentally dependent on the quality, competence and calibre of their top leadership and management. On this score, the ANC government has been a dismal failure.
Because the ANC is a party of cronyism, cadre deployment and corruption, it has done the exact opposite of what is required to have fit-for-purpose leadership in the police service who will get the basics of effective policing right and ensure a professional police service. Since becoming President‚ Mr Zuma has systematically weakened our criminal justice system with his poor record of policing appointments.
Police Minister Mbalula is on record that he and Mr Zuma are finalising the appointment process for a new permanent Head of Hawks and permanent National Police Commissioner respectively. The lack of a transparent and independent process in this regard is already cause for concern because decisions will once again be taken behind closed doors against unknown criteria.
President Zuma and Minister Mbalula must know that candidates chosen for these positions will demonstrate to the public how seriously this ANC government takes the crucial need for fit-for-purpose leadership. South Africans are clear on their position that they want a professional and effective policing system that will be able to fight crime and ensure safety on the streets and at home.
The fundamental problem we face as a country in effectively tackling and reducing crime, especially violence against women and children, is a lack of political will within the ANC national government to do the things that are required to turn the police service around to make it an effective crime-fighting organisation.
The ANC’s modus operandi of cronyism and cadre deployment means that police leadership is politicised and/or isn’t always appointed and promoted on the basis of merit and thus they fail to get the basics of effective management right. As a result, most police stations are under-staffed, under-resourced, under-equipped and under-trained.
The only solution to these problems so that we stand a chance of reducing crime is for the ANC to be voted out of power and for a new DA-led national government to be installed at the 2019 elections that will have the political will to fix the fundamentals in the criminal justice system.