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
11 October 2007

Me campaigning? Never!

I am not in the habit of reading the exquisitely boring press releases issued at the end of every cabinet meeting by the Government Communication and Information Service. But looking for anything to enlighten me on the Vusi Pikoli saga I happened on the following little nugget in the latest statement issued this afternoon.

During the month of October, a number of activities will take place around the country to intensify direct interaction between the Executive and the public. This programme kicked off this past weekend with the Presidential Imbizo which took place in the Uthukela district in KwaZulu-Natal province. This month will experience heightened communication between the Executive and the public on a variety of issues, including Transport and Social Development events, the national Imbizo week from 22 to 28 October, and the National Correctional Services Week from 15 to 19 October.

If I was slightly less cynical or suspicious and if our political atmosphere had not been so poisoned by the race for the Presidency of the ANC I would not have thought twice about this statement. But of course, we are cursed to live in interesting times, so I immediately note that the President is going to criss-cross the country a few weeks before the ANC Conference on taxpayers money to connect with the people and get top billing every night on the SABC news and radio which are watched and listened to by most delegates to the ANC conference.

Of course he will claim he is doing nothing of the sort, but he will be campaigning for the same job Zuma and Sexwale are campaigning for. Miranda Strydom, ex-officio campaign manager will let us know all about it. It happens everywhere in the world but here we cannot admit to it because ANC leaders are supposed to be called and are not supposed to campaign.

How infantile this whole system is and how strangegly it suits the unpopular incumbent.

If I was one of those FRiends of Jacob Zuma I would send a posse of supporters to every Imbizo to ask the Presidnet all the difficult questions that journalists never get the opportunity to ask before they are whisked away by Essop’s Fables. O, one will also have to tip off the lazy non government media so that they can attend and report on the President’s answers.

Just a thought…..

 

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