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 December 2011

The end of the year

It has been a long year, with so many political and constitutional twists and turns that it sometimes seemed hard to keep track of events and of who is up and who is down in our politics. The latest seemingly outrageous decision of a Parole Board to release two of the Waterkloof 4 killers to house arrest is just the latest in a long line of questionable decisions made this year by various officials.

I tried to ascertain – by reading the relevant sections of the Correctional Services Act – whether the release of the 2 Waterkloof killers were unlawful, but that Act is not easy to understand and I am just about to embark on holiday and, for the time being, was defeated by the complicated provisions of that Act.

What did strike me is the manner in which this case has been reported in especially parts of the Afrikaans media. Unlike with Schabir Shailk, where the reporting focused on the possible abuse of power in ordering Shaik’s release, some Afrikaans media outlets have been treating this case as if the Waterkloof killers have been the victims of a terrible injustice. How the cold blooded killers of a homeless man can ever be seen as victims is beyond me. I guess sometimes in our society race and language solidarity trumps everything else – including considerations of justice.

In any case, this is probably my last post for the year. I will be back early in the new year. Hope all readers of this Blog have a good holiday.

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