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
5 May 2008

Mayor Pinocchio?

Maybe we are beginning to see why Helen Zille is so adamant to stop the Erasmus Commission from doing its job. Newspapers this weekend reported on allegations made by Premier Ebrahim Rasool in papers before the High Court in the application to have the Erasmus Commission of Enquiry declared illegal and/or unconstitutional and they make veryy interesting reading indeed.

No wonder Helen Zille has seemingly lost the plot and continues to argue (falsely) that the Constitutional Court has said that judges should not get involved with commission’s of enquiry if there is any chance that it would be politically controversial.

This is false because in South African Association of Personal Injury Lawyers v Heath the Constitutional Court said that given the principle of the separation of powers in our Constitution, a judge should not perform a task that is “incompatible with judicial office” and that one of the factors that might be relevant in deciding whether the task is incompatible with judicial office would be whether it would “create the risk of judicial entanglement in matters of political controversy”.

But the Court also said that judges can preside over commissions on inquiry because the performance of such a function “ordinarily calls for the qualities and skills required for the performance of judicial functions – independence, weighing-up of information, and giving a decision on the basis of a consideration of relevant information”.

Maybe Ms Zille has something to hide after all? From the Cape Times comes this report:

Premier Ebrahim Rasool alleges that Mayor Helen Zille may have had a bigger role than she has asserted in the city’s dealings with the private investigators hired to probe councillor Badih Chaaban.

This is among charges levelled by Rasool in an affidavit he submitted to the High Court on Wednesday, in response to the city’s application last month to have the Erasmus Commission declared invalid.

Rasool alleged Zille had “regular Monday morning meetings” with operatives of the investigating firm, George Fivaz and Associates.

The meetings had also been attended by DA members who are not city council office-bearers. He charged that her telephone records pointed to “personal contacts” with the investigations firm.

This morning Zille dismissed Rasool’s allegations as “lies” that were “very easy to refute”.

Interesting stuff. I am looking forward to hear Ms Zille’s side of the story (apart from a blanket denial which does not really enlighten us) and to hear how she will refute these claims. If they are easy to refute, I am sure she will let us have all the evidence to refute these claims in the next day or two.

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