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
23 April 2007

What a surprise

The Public Protector, Advocate Lawrence Mushwana, has announced that his office will not investigate Chippy Shaik over arms deal bribery allegations. The Sowetan reports:

Mushwana said the Public Protector did not have powers to conduct criminal investigations and to institute prosecutions. “It is therefore for the National Prosecuting Authority to decide whether the allegations made by Der Spiegel warrant any further investigation in South Africa, at this time.” According to Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine, Shaik, brother of convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik, was allegedly paid a US3 million (about R21 million) bribe by one of the arms-deal bidding companies.

The Public Protector does have the power to investigate corruption and then to refer the matter to the NPA for criminal investigation. Guess Chippy has friends in high places and the Wise One is not prepared to upset them. If only I could feign surprise….

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