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
4 February 2009

COPE’s rogue’s gallery grows…. or not?

The media can be so gullible. or maybe some journalists are just lazy and uninformed? Sometimes they seem as if they will publish anything without actually checking things out. How else to explain recent reports about Juan Duval Uys?

Uys popped up in the media again this week after his colleagues in the resurrected National Party applied for a court order against him because he had allegedly highjacket the National Party. Uys used to be the leader of an outfit called the Gay and Lesbian Alliance (in other words he was a one man show with a fax machine), but failed to register that party for the election because he claimed his house with the deposit in it burnt down (yeah right, and the dog ate my homework).

He also claimed that thousands of the (non-existent) members of his party were going to defy the South African Blood Transfusion Services who had banned gay men from donating blood, by donating blood without revealing their sexual orientation. When this did not materialise (because there were no members of this so called Alliance – they were all in Uys’ head) he popped up as the spokesperson for that other trustworthy and upright citizen, Badih Chabaan, who is currently trying to prevent the Cape Town city council from kicking him out as a councellor because of his unethical behaviour and his alleged ties with the Cape Town mafia.

Now Uys claims he has deregistered the National Party (has any journalist checked to see if this is true) and that he has joined the Congress of the People (COPE). Said the news24 report:

“With my defection from the NP to Cope, my mood went from depression to that of excitement,” said Uys, who is currently involved in a legal wrangle over the leadership of the NP. On Wednesday, Uys alleged that 42 out of the party’s 50 top officials had followed him to the Congress of the People as well as all of the party’s paid-up members.

He also claimed paid-up members had demanded their membership fees back. “With a bank saldo [balance] of R581.35, the NP will find it very difficult to compete in the upcoming elections. With Cope now established on the South African political arena, no other party can claim a loyal support base any more,” said Uys.

Yeah right. And the moon is made of cheese. If I was a Cope leader I would put as much distance between myself and this charlatan. Has Cope really accepted Uys as a member? If so, why? First peter Marais, then Boesak and Now Cope. Who next? Tony Yengeni and Chippie Shaik? I must say if Cope really accepts such a person as a member it will make me even less inclined to vote for them.

Meanwhile it is sad that a character like this can be quoted in newspaper reports and that his claims are never checked out to see if they are false. I am an ardent supporter of media freedom and think politicians far too quickly blame the media when the want to distract attention from their own shenanigans.

But when press releases by a confirmed charlatan like Uys is presented as “news” I do begin to worry. What else do we get told as the gospel truth when in fact it is nothing more than the wild claims of a mentally unstable individual with a yearning for publicity? This kind of think open the media up for criticism and allows politicians to discredit the media – even when they do the important work of uncovering corruption and wrongdoing by politicians.

If I was a newspaper editor I would prohibit my newspaper from publishing a single word of what Uys says – unless it is part of an expose about him. Come on guys, you can do better.

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