While Cyril Ramaphosa promises "new dawns" and plays around with property rights, latest crime figures remind us yet again that the government cannot provide South Africans with the security they pay for.
Although the incidence of some crimes has decreased, murders are at the highest level in 15 years. The number in 2017/2018 was 20 336 – the first time the figure has topped 20 000 since 2003/2004. The latest murder rate – 35 for every 100 000 people – is the highest since 2009/2010. The police are better at implementing their employment equity targets than in combating crime.
South Africa's murder rate is around 30 times those of France and Australia, and eight times that of the US. No wonder then that the director general of the National Treasury, Dondo Mogajane, said a few months ago that South Africa was "on the verge of becoming a failed state".
Almost every day there are reports of failure. In February this year a water specialist said that 80% of the country's sewerage systems were dysfunctional. In April the finance minister said that some of the country's cities were "on the brink of collapse". The following month the government admitted that hundreds of its Thusong service centres had all but collapsed. In June the Office of Health Standards Compliance said after carrying out 851 inspections of public hospitals and clinics that the score for cleanliness was below 50% in six of the nine provinces.
Periodic "stock outs" at government pharmacies are another sign of failure, as are the endless delays in licensing medicines before they can be provided to patients. The deaths of 144 – if not more – Life Esidemi patients make headlines only because the numbers are so high: the recent deaths of six babies from Klebsiella barely make the news, no doubt because preventable infant deaths in public hospitals are a regular occurrence.
Small wonder then that the national Department of Health's headquarters in Pretoria is plagued by numerous health and safety problems. Earlier this month, three firefighters died battling a blaze at a building in Johannesburg housing various provincial departments, among them health. That building was only 21% compliant with required standards. According to the Gauteng administration, eight of its other buildings in the city do not comply with legal standards.