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
12 October 2009

Why the Rule of Law is not only important for the rich

Justice Johan Kriegler has been vilified by some because his organisation, Freedom Under Law (FUL), decided to challenge the decision of the Judicial Services Commission not to investigate the charges against Judge President John Hlophe. Kriegler argued that it was necessary to take this action in order to defend the Rule of Law. If even a small bit of what is shown on the video below and alleged elsewhere by Abahlali baseMjondolo is true, it conclusively demonstrates why the defense of the Rule of Law is not a frolic to protect the rich and well heeled alone.

If members of the police take sides in local conflicts and if local politicians do not respect the law because they think that state institutions will not respect the law and will turn a blind eye to their lawlessness and criminality, social activism and political mobilisation – both essential for the thriving of democracy – will be snuffed out and our beautiful Constitution will not be worth the paper it is written on. Anyone who dares to oppose the whims of local power brokers and charlatans acting under the protection of local politicians will face the threat of violence or even death.

This is slightly more important, I suspect, than whether John Hlophe is a crook or whether the members of the JSC are unprincipled political hacks doing the bidding of the ANC. Watch this video and weep.

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