Well-known economist Roelof Botha says crime is a bigger problem than state capture and public sector incompetence.
Speaking to Rian van Heerden on Jacaranda FM, Botha said while state capture is a major issue, crime trumps it as the biggest problem in South Africa.
“The crime situation is really terrible,” said Botha. He did, however, say there are solutions to this.
Botha said increasing the employment rate, especially among young people, can significantly reduce crime.
He added that a better-trained police force and ensuring “the punishment fits the crime” are further ways to battle this problem.
Implementing the right policies
While South Africa faces many challenges, Botha believes there is not a single problem which cannot be fixed by combining the right policy and the right skills.
“Zimbabwe did not become a failed state because the country does not have potential. It was one of the top 10 food exporters in the world,” said Botha.
He said countries like Zimbabwe and Venezuela became failed states because of poor policies which crushed their economies.
He applauded the Treasury for giving South Africa the “best economic growth blueprint” he has ever seen for this country.
Unfortunately, Botha added, many of the major trade unions opposed the policies which will see South Africa grow.
He cautioned against policies which pander to trade unions, saying it leads to the poor economic situation which the country has seen over the last decade.
How crime hurts the economy
A good example of how crime hurts the country and the economy is international tourism.
South Africa could attract double the 10 million tourists which currently visit the country every year if it wasn’t for crime and service delivery protests.
Tourism Business Council of SA CEO Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa stated that crime was by the biggest worry for international travellers taking a trip to South Africa.
He said that if crime was not a factor, South Africa would see around double the number of tourists visiting yearly, adding that frequent service delivery protests are also a “nightmare” for tourists.
“Violence against tourists is equivalent to economic crimes such as stealing copper cables and gold, and something must be done,” Tshivhengwa said.
“As a country, we’ve got everything that any tourist would want to see and it’s quite important that they feel safe,” he said.
“We have, however, seen a recurrence of the same crimes against tourists in the past few months and this calls for us to look at tourism differently as it creates jobs.”
Tourists are regularly targeted by local criminals due to their lack of awareness around South Africa’s dangerous areas and the large amount of money which they carry with them.