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
1 April 2008

End of the road for Robert Mugabe?

The New York Times is reporting that the MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai is in talks with advisers to President Robert Mugabe, amid signs that some of those close to Mr. Mugabe may encourage him to resign. The Times is quoting “a Western diplomatic source and a prominent Zimbabwe political analyst”. They claim the negotiations about a possible transfer of power away from Mr. Mugabe come after he apparently concluded that a runoff election would be demeaning.

Zimbabwean students with parents in the ZANU PF hierarchy also told me earlier today of these rumours. Could it really be the end of Robert Mugabe? If these reports are true, President Thabo Mbeki may finally take some credit for finally outmaneuvering Mr Mugabe. President Mbeki was instrumental in engineering changes to the Electoral Act which requires votes to be counted at each polling station and results posted outside each station, making rigging of the poll much more difficult.

But I will only believe it when I see it. Holding thumbs though. No leader should hang on to power for so long.

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