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
12 February 2007

Rather Bloemfontein than Braamfontein….

Men’s Health magazine has just published a report which rates Bloemfontein as the top “city” for men to live in South Africa. The Men’s Health team might have spent too much time with the leadership of FNB because the survey seems rather obsessed with crime.

The Mail & Guardian reports:

Bloemfontein, with only 20 burglaries per 10 000 residents, was voted the best city in South Africa for men. Pietermaritzburg was rated second, Johannesburg third, Pretoria fourth, Cape Town fifth, East London sixth and Durban seventh.
This news must be heartening to those gentlemen judges on the Supreme Court of Appeal who are forced …. (I mean, who are lucky enough) … to live in Bloemfontein instead of living close to Braamfontein.

It is not clear from the news reports whether cities were also judged on the intellectual stimulation available and the commitment of its inhabitants to constitutional transformation. Given the fact that Bloemfontein came out tops, I would be surprised if they were.

To be fair, using the latter criteria I am not sure that Cape Town would have done better than its 5th position either. O well, at least we have the mountian and the ocean while Bloemfontein has the Vrouemonument.

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