Both the constructive disagreement intrinsic to science and the adversarial scrutiny necessary to politics disappear in this invocation of science as the ultimate authority – this trick will become familiar in the coming months. An extraordinary emergency requires extraordinary powers; no one disagrees with that. But it is politics, not science, which grants these powers legitimacy. How long will they endure?
The State of the Nation address seems less defensive and more self-critical than any that came before. I was struck especially by this quote:
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Certainly, we cannot erase that which is ugly and repulsive and claim the happiness that comes with freedom if communities live in fear, closeted behind walls and barbed wire, ever anxious in their houses, on the streets and on our roads, unable freely to enjoy our public spaces. Obviously, we must continue and further intensify the struggle against crime.
While we have already surpassed that targeted figure of 152 000 police officers employed in the South African Police Service, and while we have improved the training programme, we recognise the fact that the impact of this is not yet high enough for everybody to feel a better sense of safety and security. While we have reduced the incidence of most contact crimes, the annual reduction rate with regard to such categories as robbery, assault and murder is still below the 7-10% that we had targeted. And the abuse of women and children continues at an unacceptable level.