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
21 February 2007

Paris is sleeping…..

The Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) on Tuesday laid a 20 page complaint against the SABC with the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa). The complaint argues that the SABC violated the Broadcasting Act 11 times, its licence conditions five times and the Constitution three times.

According to the Mail & Guardian:

An allegation that Zikalala showed a Special Assignment programme to the Presidency prior to broadcast is especially grave, as it opens the SABC up to editorial influence in violation of the Act and its own code of editorial practice.

The FXI further argues in its complaint that the denial of the existence of a blacklist in June last year had misled the public — a violation of the Act, the SABC code of practice and Icasa’s code of conduct for broadcasters.

The complaint also points to possible violations of the freedom-of-expression clause found in the Constitution. These include an attempt to force the Mail & Guardian Online to remove a copy of the blacklisting report, and the alleged screening of the Special Assignment show to the Presidency.

Having not seen the complaint and not being an expert on Icasa (after reading the various acts governing Icasa’s work I felt like a first year law student at a Master’s seminar on Tax Law), I have no idea whether the complaint has any legal merit.

However, if even a fraction of the media reports about the shenanigans at Icasa are true, I would not hold my breath for a speedy resolution of the dispute. After all, according to his ex secretary, Paris Mashile the chair of Icasa, hardly ever did Icasa work and liked taking off his shoes and having a nap in his office.

Maybe Mr Mashile is a very hard worker and his ex-secretary was lying through her teeth about his work habits. But given the fact that Icasa is the institution that is supposed to regulate Telkom and thus is supposed to help bring down telecommunication prices, I can only say again: don’t hold your breath FXI.

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