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Cablegate: Zuma Supporters Energized Ahead of Key Ruling

VZCZCXRO0899
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSA #2025/01 2551643
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 111643Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5685
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 6001
RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN 0152
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PRETORIA 002025

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KJUS SF
SUBJECT: ZUMA SUPPORTERS ENERGIZED AHEAD OF KEY RULING

REF: PRETORIA 2013

PRETORIA 00002025 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) SUMMARY. Ruling African National Congress (ANC)
President Jacob Zuma's supporters are turning to the streets
and intensifying their rhetoric ahead of the Pietermaritzburg
High Court decision tomorrow. The court is expected to rule
on a petition by Zuma's defense team that calls the court to
terminate the prosecution and remove criminal charges against
him. Judge Chris Nicholson is expected to rule whether the
National Prosecuting Authority's (NPA) decision to recharge
him in December 2007 was lawful. (Note: In September 2006,
the Pietermaritzburg court removed the corruption case
against Zuma from the court docket because the NPA had
insufficient basis for pursuing the prosecution in a timely
manner. In December 2007, days after he was elected ANC
President over incumbent Thabo Mbeki, the NPA charged Zuma
with corruption, racketeering, money laundering, and fraud.
End Note.) Police are tightening security ahead of Zuma's
court appearance and Zuma is trying to defuse further unrest
should the court rule against him. END SUMMARY.

--------------------------------------
ZUMA SUPPORTERS TAKE TO THE STREETS...
--------------------------------------

2. (SBU) Hundreds of Zuma supporters on Wednesday September
10 took to the streets in Durban, calling for the NPA's
charges to be dropped. This follows more than a week of
increasingly aggressive demonstrations across the country
where youth wings of the ANC coalition have presented
petitions to provincial courts calling for all charges
against Zuma to be dropped. Marchers blocked all the major
routes into the city for more than three hours, forcing
businesses to close and traffic diversions. Demonstrators
intimidated bystanders and even forced drivers and
pedestrians to join their march. Police used rubber bullets
and stun grenades to disperse the crowd and paramedics
treated at least two protesters for rubber bullet wounds.
Police expect several thousand supporters to attend a night
vigil on Thursday September 11 in Pietermaritzburg and an ANC
official told U.S. diplomats this week that there will be a
big gathering on Friday for the verdict and some expect
nearly 5,000 supporters. (Note: The senior leaders of the
ANC's coalition and provincial leaders from across the
country will arrive in Pietermaritzburg on the night before
the verdict. The ANC coalition intends to bus in thousands
of supporters. End Note.)

-------------------------
...AND TURN UP THE VOLUME
-------------------------

3. (SBU) ANC Youth League President Julius Malema on
Wednesday warned that youth league supporters would "crush"
and "eliminate" anyone, including ANC leaders, who attempt to
block Zuma from becoming President. He also claimed more
Zuma supporters would be bussed into Pietermaritzburg in
order to bring the city to a halt before Judge Nicholson
makes his decision.

4. (SBU) The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU),
meanwhile, on Wednesday called on the ANC to reinstate Zuma
to the Deputy Presidency. (Note: Zuma was removed from this
job in June 2005 following initial charges of corruption in
the controversial 1998 arms deal. End Note.)
KwaZulu-Natal's COSATU Secretary Zet Luzipho told protesters
the trade unions stand behind Zuma and claimed that wealthy
South Africans are using their influence over state
institutions to bar Zuma from the presidency. COSATU's top
Qinstitutions to bar Zuma from the presidency. COSATU's top
leadership is expected to attend Zuma's appearance on Friday
at the court and Secretary General Zwelinzima Vavi implied
there could be a stay-away (work stoppage) if Zuma is found
guilty.

5. (SBU) Zuma's supporters also continue to express outrage
over a cartoon drawn by South African cartoonist Zapiro
depicting Zuma preparing to rape the criminal justice system.
The cartoon is seen by many as a metaphor for Zuma and his
supporters not respecting the judiciary's independence.
However, Zuma's defenders castigate it as an abuse of the
freedom of the press and prejudicial against Zuma, who was
found not guilty when accused of rape in 2006.

-----------------------
POLICE STEP UP SECURITY
-----------------------

PRETORIA 00002025 002.2 OF 002

6. (SBU) Police in KwaZulu-Natal are on high alert so
officers can temper the reactions to Nicholson's verdict.
Police spokesperson Henry Budhram said officers will make
security a priority as they have done for Zuma's previous
court appearances. Budhram noted police want to ensure
normal activities continue unhindered outside the court.

7. (SBU) Zuma is seeking to defuse possible unrest from his
supporters by reiterating publicly that while the judiciary
is not above criticism it is a pillar of a stable society and
its verdicts must be respected. There is also continued
speculation that Zuma's legal team is seeking a plea bargain
with the NPA. In the meantime, however, uncertainty over
Nicholson's ruling probably will reach a fever pitch with
Zuma supporters across the country and in Pietermaritzburg
continuing to protest and criticize the courts despite the
ANC President's attempts to temper the situation.

-------
COMMENT
-------

8. (SBU) Julius Malema is stoking up the expectations of
Zuma supporters by suggesting that Judge Nicholson will throw
out Zuma's corruption case on Friday. Legal analysts expect
that Zuma's petition before the court to end this prosecution
action will fail. In the absence of evidence to the
contrary, Malema's suggestion that Zuma's legal troubles will
be over following Nicholson's judgment is unlikely to be
realized. As such, the frustration likely to emerge when
Malema's prediction fails to come to pass, the potential for
aggression or violent demonstrations around this event
increase.
BOST

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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