In yet another shameless publicity stunt, designed to appeal to the most reactionary strata of the DA’s support base,Western Cape premier and self-appointed leader of South Africa’s opposition; Helen Zille called on president Zuma to deploy SANDF troops to the ganglands of the Cape Flats. This bellicose rhetoric emanating from what is possibly history’s worst liberal party, I mean what could be less ‘liberal’ than deploying the Army in civilian areas? This latest ploy is no surprise to anyone who has followed the DA’s drug policy over their brief and annoying history (or lack thereof). The DA remains trapped in the same destructive world view which unleashed the so-called war on drugs some years ago, which has cost countless lives (some 60000 in the last 6 years in Mexico alone) and billions of dollars from Mexico to Columbia to Afghanistan and now such Cape Flat locales as Lavender Hill and Hanover Park.
According to Zille, the situation in the ghettos of ‘world class’ Cape Town is so dire, that the SAPS needs “ the support of the SA National Defence Force to restore order in these suburbs while they proceed with the task of investigative policing.”. The Drug trade for the DA is a cancer, a disease which has to be eradicated, rather than a symptom of the vast social-economic disparity which still characterizes the city of Cape Town and the country as a whole.
“To accompany these programmes, the DA will crack down hard on drug and alcohol abuse – a problem that leads many young South Africans to destroy their lives. Among other things, we will reinstate the narcotics bureau, triple the funding allocation to the central drug authority and tighten up on bail for drug offences.”
To quote from their own website, the DA appears to be proposing to build a US style drug agency and increase resources to combat the ‘scourge of drugs’, while removing non-violent offenders basic consitutional rights.The fact is that the majority of drug offences are non-violent and the damage wrought by legal drugs like tobacco and alcohol far surpasses the worst ravages of heroin and cocaine let alone MDMA and pot. And of course we all know how succesful the United States’ ‘War on Drugs’ has been, they now have a prison population of around 6 million, which to give a sense of proportion is more than Stalin had in the Gulags in the worst years of that horrific system. In the US the war on drugs has not yet made a dent on the demand or the supply of drugs to the country, but it has been used as a cover for a proxy war again working class black and latino communities.
When I still actually followed Zille on twitter, she used to pass time time by getting people to denounce their neighbourhood dealer via twitter… If anything the drug trade remains firmly embedded in the spirit of entrepreneurship that the DA urges the youth to embrace as the solution to the unemployment crisis, youth starting their own businesses, connecting supply to demand etc… The only problem for the DA is that their own reactionary social base and patronizing understanding of ‘liberalism’ (essentially we know what’s best for you) prevents them from adopting anything like a sane drug policy.
For a quick refresher of what happened the last time the SANDF was deployed in the Cape Flats look no further than here…