If a poll were to be held today, who do you think would emerge the country’s most favoured politician?
I would guess President Cyril Ramaphosa would feature as a strong candidate for bringing renewed hope to the country in his first 100 days in office.
Other contenders could include Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille for her stout-hearted fight against the DA, Pravin Gordhan for his efforts to clean up state enterprises or even firebrand EFF leader Julius Malema for putting land reform in the spotlight.
But they’re all running for second place in the popularity stakes because the undisputed people’s champion this week is none other than the dandy, tough-talking Police Minister Bheki Cele - not necessarily for any concrete achievement on his part but because most South Africans desperately want to see him succeed in his job.
South Africans are gatvol of crime - almost daily reports of fatal hijackings, home invasions and violent cash-in-transit heists and robberies.
So when a tough-talking, no-nonsense sheriff comes riding into town with guns blazing, the townsfolk welcome him with open arms. When someone like Cele doffs his trademark fedora hat as he enters the home of a crime victim, reaches out to mourning relatives and friends and shares in their grief, his empathy helps ease the pain they’re going through.
When he vows to launch a nationwide clampdown on violent crime, promising to do all in his power to put more boots on the ground and increase police visibility on our streets, that’s music to people’s ears.
When he commits to a plan to establish a team to go after known, wanted criminals and increase police resources to ensure quicker response times to reports of crimes, they applaud enthusiastically.
When he tells ordinary South Africans, he’s going to expose police officers involved in crime, they are filled with hope.
Because hope is what people are clinging to in these desperate times.
Cele’s no angel, having blotted his copy book over his role in a contract for police accommodation in his previous stint as commissioner.
Other critics are worried his much-vaunted crime prevention plan may just be political noise, not unlike the bluster of his predecessor Fikile “Razzmatazz” Mbalula.
But people are so desperate for him to succeed they’re prepared to overlook previous aberrations. They just want an end to crime and Cele’s their man, finish and klaar.
The Sunday Independent