Quote of the week

My colleagues and I often care for patients suffering from hallucinations, prophesying, and claiming to speak with God, among other symptoms—in mental health care, it’s sometimes very difficult to tell apart religious belief from mental illness…. Our conclusions frequently stem from the behaviors we see before us. Take an example of a man who walks into an emergency department, mumbling incoherently. He says he’s hearing voices in his head, but insists there’s nothing wrong with him. He hasn’t used any drugs or alcohol. If he were to be evaluated by mental health professionals, there’s a good chance he might be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia. But what if that same man were deeply religious? What if his incomprehensible language was speaking in tongues?

Nathaniel P.Morris
Scientific American
30 March 2007

Mbeki plotting power grab?

A fascinating article in the Business Day today analyses some of the policy proposals for reorganising the ANC. It argues that these proposals are not aimed at “clipping Mbeki’s wings” as the Sunday Times has reported but rather to do the opposite:

Instead, it seems to imply that the ANC must make it possible for Mbeki’s inner circle in the state presidency to continue to rule SA after 2009. If this interpretation is correct, the document signals one of the most audacious factional drives for power in the history of the modern ANC.

The genius of the paper is that it endorses familiar leftist criticisms of Mbeki’s first decade in power. Too much power has been vested in one man. The movement’s presidency has usurped powers rightfully belonging to its secretary-general. Government ministers have become distant from the people. The ANC has lost the capacity to make policy and to monitor its implementation.

The remedy for a decade of centralisation in President Thabo Mbeki’s conjoined state and ANC presidencies, the document suggests, is the creation of two centres of power. Rather than being subordinated to the state, the ANC must become more than its match. Indeed, the “integration” between state and party “should be based on the principle that the ANC is the ultimate strategic centre of power”.

The article concludes that the notion that Mbeki should remain ANC president, more or less in perpetuity, seems to be gaining ground. So too does the idea that the control by his inner circle of government policy and appointments must be sustained after 2009. It would be fascinating to hear what Mbeki’s people say about this article. Be sure that Vavi and company is circulating it to all as I write.

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