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
7 February 2007

SACP borrows from Tony Blair – really!

When Prime Minister Tony Blair became the leader of new-Labour in the early nineteen nineties, he was revered by some for the way his slogans managed to straddled the divide between the social concerns of the traditional Labour supporters and the middle class bourgeois concerns of people who voted for Margaret Thatcher.

The most famous of these slogans was that new-Labour would be “tough on crime, and tough on the causes of crime”.

What a surprise then to read in the paper that the SACP, in criticizing FNB’s aborted crime campaign as hypocritical, made the following statement:

We need to be tough on crime, but we also need to be tough on the underlying causes of crime – in particular, the crisis of underdevelopment confronting around half of our population, with the aggravating circumstance of extreme inequality.

(Thanks, Marcus, for pointing this irony out to me.)

The rest of the SACP statement also largely seems to make sense to me. As is usually the case when they are not talking about Mr Jacob Zuma and the succession debate, the SACP seems rather level-headed and sensible.

“Banks in South Africa are welcome to contribute to the fight against crime… But it is important that these initiatives… be grounded in reality if they are to succeed and not falsely raise our hopes and squander the financial resources of clients and stakeholders,” the NCF said in a statement.

Many of the same points are made by Steven Friedman in the Business Day this morning.

If more people engage on this sensible level with the issue of crime because of the FNB debacle, maybe something good would have come of it after all. Meanwhile the whole saga has at least revealed that the SACP is a modern political party that is so confident of its principles that it is even prepared to borrow ideas (or at least slogans) from the arch enemy, Tony Blair.

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