OUTRAGE OVER CRIME
IN ANY FULLY functional democracy, with a strong opposition that amounts to a government in waiting, President Thabo Mbeki’s offhand dismissal of the national crime crisis as a “perception” would be an election-winning issue. Mbeki would be forced to resign and call an election that he would probably lose.
Without that kind of opposition, however, it’s left to the media to exercise their watchdog role as the Fourth Estate. The media have become the most powerful opposition we have. And in the modern era, there’s a new kind of uncontrollable, uncheckable and rampant medium called word of mouth. Actually, it’s the oldest medium of all, but given a new lease of life by technology, word of mouth becomes word of mouse. And, of course, it’s no longer confined to the Internet. Marketers call it viral marketing, because it spreads like a virus. A monster.
The fact that over 400 000 sms messages were sent in the first day after Mbeki’s appearance on a TV programme – supporting the contention that crime is out of control – is a powerful demonstration of public outrage. Further outrage is signified by the massive campaign against crime launched by First National Bank this weekend.
If it stays true to form, the Government will probably ignore them, but Mbeki just might receive a lesson in modern communications and the tsunami of the empowered consumer.