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 November 2006

Tidbits from SCA Shaik judgement

I was struck by one paragraph in the SCA judgment in Shaik v S.

On 9 February 2000, a newspaper, City Press, reported under the heading ‘Senior defence official in arms corruption scandal’:
‘Claims under scrutiny include that:

  • a senior politician intervened to reopen negotiations for the contract to provide the corvette defence suite, after which French outfit Thomson, together with a local empowerment group, African Defence Systems, were declared the preferred bidders.
  • this was after a different local company received indications it was the preferred bidder.’

As was stated by the court below the report ‘clearly identified Thomson as one of the culprits in the allegations of corruption and left the identity of the senior politician to guesswork and rumour’. On the same day the Presidency issued a statement rejecting ‘any insinuation that Deputy President Jacob Zuma is implicated in shady arms deals’.

Zuma’s name was not mentioned in the report. Why would the office of the President issue a denial which in effect confirmed the existence of the allegations against Zuma. Grist for the mill for those who beleive in the conspiracy.

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