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
29 November 2013

What President Zuma told Parliament about the Nkandla “enhancements”

Today the Mail & Guardian published details of what it claims is the provisional Report of the Public Protector on the spending of more than R200 million of public funds on President Jacob Zuma’s private home at Nkandla. One of the most shocking and scandalous aspects of this report is that the Public Protectors draft report allegedly found that President Zuma lied to Parliament (and hence to the nation) about the use of public funds for his personal enrichment.

The newspaper claims that the provisional report finds that President Jacob Zuma has derived “substantial” personal benefit from works that exceeded security needs at his Nkandla homestead and must repay the state, public protector Thuli Madonsela has provisionally found: a swimming pool, visitors’ centre, amphitheatre, cattle kraal, marquee area, extensive paving and new houses for relocated relatives were all improperly included in the security upgrade at “enormous cost” to the taxpayer, Madonsela is alleged to have found.

Here is the original speech made by President Zuma in the National Assembly in which he claimed the state only paid for security enhancements at Nkandla.

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