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 November 2007

Why the silence?

It has been almost two week now since the publication of After the Party, Andrew Feinstein’s book in which he claims the ANC bigwigs – from President Mbeki  to Trevor Manuel to Essop Pahad – stopped a vigorous investigation of the arms deal because senior ANC figures and perhaps the ANC itself benefited from arms deal bribes.

Curiously, despite these obviously defamatory claims by Feinstein, not a single ANC cabinet Minister or official implicated in the shameful cover up, nor the President, nor the ANC as an organisation, have issued denials of any of Feisntein’s claims. Neither have they attacked him or issued instructions to their lawyers that he be sued. I was waiting for the letter from the President to let rip last Friday, but the President had other canards on his brian, perhaps because the truth of Feinstein’s book was to difficult to bluster away.

Does this mean the ANC and all those ANC bigwigs implicated by Feinstein have now in effect admitted that everything Feinstein have written is true? If they do not sue or demand a retraction, that is surely the only conclusion to be drawn from the silence. I suppose then the silence can be viewed as a strategic one: the ANC has probably decided to say nothing in the hope that Feinstein and his irksome obsession with the truth would go away.

This silence seems to confirm that the arms deal was the beginning of the end for the ANC as a moral, principled and incorruptible freedom movement and the end of the beginning of the ANC as a money-grabbing,  unprincipled and corrupt political party. Would it have been different if Thabo Mbeki had not been President? My continuing admiration for some ANC leaders and the respect for the pre-arms deal ANC makes me hope and believe that it would have been different.

But now we will never know. What I do know is that I will never again believe one single word Essop Pahad says because he now has the credibility of a second hand car salesman in Virginia.

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