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
27 April 2007

Curiouser and curiouser

The story of the ANC and the hoax emails just get curiouser and curiouser. According to the Mail & Guardian the ANC task team asked to investigate the matter, found that the emails were genuine in the sense that they “existed in cyberspace” – they were written and sent by individuals – and were not fabricated by NIA officials.

Now former National Intelligence Agency boss Billy Masetlha has subpoenaed ANC secretary general Kgalema Motlanthe to hand over the ruling party’s “hoax” email report.

Masetlha’s motive in summonsing Motlanthe is straightforward: he is accused of being central to the fabrication of the emails, while the report finds that other, as yet unnamed, actors are responsible. If the document goes public, the authenticity of the messages would have to be further investigated.

What I do not understand is how anyone in his or her right mind could ever have thought that the content of the emails were genuine. When the Mail & Guardian published extracts from the emails, it became clear that they were obviously false. Yet people like Kgalema Motlanthe actually seem to have believed in their authenticity.

It seems to suggest that the ANC is so riddled with infighting and some of its leaders so paranoid that they would believe in the authenticity of such crude fabrications. It is embarrassing that Motlanthe, whose name is mentioned as a compromise candidate for the ANC Presidency, could have fallen for them.

Or was he set up by pro-Mbeki people to discredit him and eliminate him from the racefor the President of the ANC? Maybe he was handed the emails and someone very influential and important whispered in his ear that the emails were genuine exactly to set him up. But even if that is the case, the fact that he could have beleived in the authenticity of the emails probably makes him too paranoid and/or stupid to become President of South Africa.

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