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
5 April 2007

Zille the liberal?

The interview with Helen Zille in the Sowetan is quite reavealing. On most issues she seems to the left of Tony Leon. No wonder Leon’s henchmen do not want her as leader. She seems closer to Reinette Taljaard than to Ryan Coetzee. Some interesting extracts:

Sowetan: [What do you think of] the death penalty?

HZ: If you do not have a good justice system you end up hanging the wrong people. Can you imagine [having] the death penalty and you convict the wrong people in our criminal justice system and with corruption in the police service. Imagine how it can be used, for example, against political opponents.

S: Gay marriages?

HZ: If I had been in parliament I would have voted for it [the Civil Union Bill].

S: What can people do about teenage pregnancies?

HZ: It starts in the home. We need parents who have children when they are ready and want children, who are totally dedicated and committed to their children, who are making every sacrifice and support to help their children develop. This in turn generates a sense of commitment and loyalty from their children. In that atmosphere of love, support and discipline we can start addressing some of these problems.

S: Is Jacob Zuma fit to run for office?

HZ: I don’t think Jacob Zuma is the right person to be president of South Africa. What he has said, what he has done, the actions he has admitted to, show that his judgments are highly questionable. The very fact that as head of the HIV and Aids strategy he admitted to having unprotected sex with a woman he knew was HIV positive, who was young enough to be his daughter [and] when we are facing issues you have just raised like teenage pregnancies, raises a major question about judgment, about leading by example and about leading from the front.

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