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
24 July 2008

Hlophe in new attack on judiciary

It is difficult not to conclude that Judge President John Hlophe and his handlangers will go to any lengths to save his bacon – even destroy the constitutional order if necessary. How else to view the application launched in the Johannesburg High Court seeking a declaratory order that the Constitutional Court had violated his rights by making allegations against him in the media, before lodging a complaint with the JSC.

He also asked for an interim interdict against the JSC, stopping it from proceeding with the hearing, at least until such time as the high court ruled on his application. I hear the Judge President is arguing that the JSC cannot hear his complaint because it is not a court of law. They should therefore also not be allowed to hear the complaint by the Constitutional Court as this complaint violated his rights.

His application to the High Court – so I am told – is aimed at stopping the whole process before the JSC to “prevent a constitutional crisis”. If the High Court agrees to hear his case, so he argues, they will have to adjudicate on a matter involving a higher court and this will plunge the whole judicial system into crisis – unless the Constitutional Court is reconstituted to hear his appeal (something that is not possible in terms of the Constitution.)

The only way to solve this “crisis” is to order the JSC not to hear the complaint against him. Clever, huh?

I do not want to comment further before I get my hands on his papers (which will be posted on the net tonight, I am told). Just one thought: do I detect the hand of Paul Ngobeni in all of this?

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