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
19 July 2007

Xolela Mangcu on Vlok and prosecution

I find myself agreeing (again) with Xolela Mangcu’s column in today’s Business Day. Money quote:

I sometimes find the hypocrisy in the white community quite astounding on these matters. The very same people calling for Jacob Zuma to be prosecuted for the sake of the rule of law or for Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe to be taken to The Hague turn around, without batting an eyelid, and plead forgiveness for Adriaan Vlok and Johann van der Merwe.

But where is the sense of justice for the families of Siphiwo Mthimkhulu and his comrades? Does this not reveal a certain callousness about black life if consideration is given only to the perpetrators.

I am not big on punishment, but if we are to have it then we must be evenhanded in its application.

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