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
20 October 2006

Review of Chapter 9 Institutions

I attended the meeting in Parlaiment this morning between an Ad Hoc Committee of Parliament and the leaders of the various Chapter 9 Institutions. The Committee has been tasked by Parliament to review these instituions and this morning’s meeting saw the start of his process. I have been asked to act as Constitutional adviser to the Committee. In his speech Kader Asmal explained the approach that will be taken:

It is important to note that the Committee will undertake its work within the boundaries of this constitutional framework. This requires the Commission to proceed with sensitivity and with honest respect for the independence and impartiality of the various institutions under review. At the same time the Committee has a Constitutional oversight duty and cannot afford to be timid or hesitant about the carrying out of this important task. The Committee is of the view that chapter 9 institutions have a pivotal role to play in the strengthening of our democracy. The Committee is also of the view that a non-partisan Ad Hoc committee of Parliament is uniquely positioned to review the work of these institutions.

In his off the cuff remarks he was a bit less polite, referring to the reports churned out by some of these institutions at a cost of more than half a million Rand and then the report is filled with pictures of the staff. A Commissioner from the Commission for Gender Equality – which have been beset with problems and have not really gained much credibility over the years – complianed that the Commission was not given enough money to do its work properly. While the commisioner said this I was wondering how many of the members of the Committee had a cynical moment and wondered whether more money would really fix the problem.

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