[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.
A chilling eye witness account about Zanu-PF “electioneering” published in the London Times:
Last weekend we had a big pungwe – a political indoctrination meeting – on the farm. It was after Mugabe had come to our little town of Chegutu, southwest of Harare, and addressed the crowd with threats of “war”. A pungwe starts when the shadows lengthen and the sun goes down and darkness falls over the land. It does not stop till after the sun has risen again. All our workers had to go, as well as all their wives with babies and any children over the age of 12. Some of them didn’t go; so the mob sent little bands of chanting youth militia with sticks to fetch the absentees, drag them out of their houses and beat them for non-attendance.
Through the night we heard the chanting and the slogans and the re-education speeches ringing out into the cold darkness for hour after hour after hour. On and on it went, striking fear into my heart. I got up and paced around in the cold night, listening.
When the first birds began to sing, I thought: “How can these birds sing after such a night as this?” Then the birdsong was drowned out. There was a terrible noise like a swarm of bees. I knew the beatings had begun again and I listened helpless, tormented, in fear but praying fervently.
Does one really want to form a government of national unity with such people? Does one have any other choice?BACK TO TOP