Quote of the week

[Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro] possesses, however, few of his predecessor’s resources, lacking not just oil revenue but Chávez’s surplus of charisma, humour and political skill. Maduro, unable to end the crisis, has increasingly sided with the privileged classes against the masses; his security forces are regularly dispatched into barrios to repress militants under the guise of fighting crime. Having lost its majority in Congress, the government, fearing it can’t win at the polls the way Chávez did, cancelled gubernatorial elections that had been set for December last year (though they now appear to be on again). Maduro has convened an assembly to write a new constitution, supposedly with the objective of institutionalising the power of social movements, though it is unlikely to lessen the country’s polarisation.

Greg Grandin
London Review of Books
18 December 2008

Boesak and public morality

On Tuesday Dr Allan Boesak gave a rousing speech at the rally that concluded the COPE congress. Boesak, who was one of the founders of the United Democratic Front and was later convicted and sent to jail for mismanaging donor funds, was pardoned by the President a few years ago.

If I was a COPE leader I would have felt uncomfortable to give Boesak such a prominent spot at the rally. What does this say about the new party’s commitment to honest and corrupt-free governance? There might be those who argue that Boesak had served his time in jail and that because he was pardoned by the President, we should not hold it against him.

I am torn on this question. If Dr Boesak had applied for the job and if he had shown that he had turned over a new leave, I might have given him a second chance and might have employed him. But should politicians not be held to a slightly higher standard?

The mayor of Washington DC was re-elected a mayor after erving a prion entence for possion and ue of crack cocaine and at the time the chattering classes in the USA were up in arms that the voters could have re-elected this man of dubious moral probity. I was less upset about his comeback as the use of drugs is a “victimless” crime and does not involve stealing money from the poor.

Boesak on the other hand ued funds earmarked for community development projects and in a awy took the food out of the mouths of the hungry. He has also never shown any remorse for what he has done.

It just goes to show, when it comes to politics, public morality in South Africa is rather of a dismal standard.

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