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
13 December 2006

Media neglect Constitutional Court

The Constitutional Court is the highest body of the third branch of government, but one would be hard-pressed to know this if one read some of our newspapers. The papers who obsessively report on the various government ministers, their trips abroad and their every irrelevant cliched utterance, seem to be a bit allergic to the work of the Court.

Yesterday the CC handed down judgment in an important case about refugee rights. The Business Day does report on this case but I find no mention of it in either Die Burger or the Cape Times. Maybe the less parochial papers in Johannesburg carried it?

Perhaps because the work done by the court is less sensational and not prone to the master narratives of corruption and incompetence associated with the legislature or executive, papers do not report on the work of the Court properly. It won’t sell newspapers. But how can we make informed choices about politics if we do not know what the third branch of government is doing?

I will blog tomorrow on my take of the latest decision.

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