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
23 September 2008

Eleven Ministers resign!

Just received the following press release from the Presidency:

Statement on the resignation of members of Cabinet and Deputy Ministers

President Thabo Mbeki has, to date, received letters of resignation from the following members of Cabinet which, regretfully, he has had to accept:

1. Deputy President

2. Minister of Defence

3. Minister of Finance

4. Minister in the Presidency, Dr. Essop Pahad

5. Minister of Intelligence

6. Minister of Correctional Services

7. Minister of Public Enterprises

8. Minister of Science and Technology

9. Minister of Public Works

10. Minister of Provincial and Local Government

11. Minister of Public Service and Administration

The following Deputy Ministers have also tendered their resignations:

1. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Aziz Pahad

2. Deputy Minister of Finance and

3. Deputy Minister of Correctional Services

The resignations will be effective from the day that the President’s resignation takes effect. All the Ministers have expressed their availability to assist the incoming administration in the hand-over process and any other assistance that might be sought from them. President Mbeki thanked the Deputy President, the Ministers and the Deputy Ministers for their dedicated service to the nation and wished them well in their future endeavours.

This means a third of the cabinet is gone. The new President will now have to appoint new ministers from among the members of the National Assembly and will have to do so sooner rather than later.

For me these resignation suggests that the new ANC leadership has some serious problems on its hands. While they specifically requested Ministers to stay on, elevn have now decided to resign. This suggests that the unity of which Gwede Mantashe spoke on Saturday is a long way off. I cannot but wonder whether this might not suggest that there are some truth to the rumours about discussions  among some cabinet Ministers to form a new political party.

Whatever happens, Gwede Mantashe and Jacob Zuma must be rather upset by these new developments as it creates the impression of an ANC leadership not in control of its members.

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