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Cablegate: Sag Deputy President and One Third of Cabinet

O 231742Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5791
INFO AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN IMMEDIATE
AMCONSUL DURBAN IMMEDIATE
AMCONSUL JOHANNESBURG IMMEDIATE
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE
CIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS PRETORIA 002102


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM SF
SUBJECT: SAG DEPUTY PRESIDENT AND ONE THIRD OF CABINET
MINISTERS/DEPUTY MINISTERS RESIGN WITH PRESIDENT MBEKI

REF: A. PRETORIA 2095
B. PRETORIA 2096
C. PRETORIA 2100

1. Summary: The resignation of Deputy President Phumzile
Mlambo-Ngcuka came as no surprise, due to her loyalty towards
President Thabo Mbeki, and her controversial standing with
the new African National Congress (ANC) senior leadership.
Although the ANC said her resignation was regrettable, and
was not asked for, her loyalty towards Mbeki almost
guaranteed she had no future with the ANC. In a similar
manner, the announcement of the resignation of a number of
cabinet ministers and deputy ministers was seen as a dramatic
act of solidarity with the former President Mbeki; as the ANC
leadership had publicly and privately conveyed their desire
that all "ANC deployees remain in their posts." End Summary.

-------------------------------------------
MBEKI ALLIES WARNED THAT THEY WERE LOYAL...
-------------------------------------------
2. Prior to President Mbeki's forced resignation on
September 21, several cabinet ministers, including the Deputy
President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, signaled that they would
likely step down if Mbeki was asked to resign. The internal
polarization within the ANC based on factional competition
between supporters of Mbeki and ANC President Jacob Zuma had
reach an untenable level by September. In 2008, the new ANC
leadership removed Mbeki supporters and replaced them with
Zuma supporters at the provincial and municipal levels to
reflect the victory of Zuma over Mbeki in December 2008 in
Polokwane. Tension within the ANC continued to grow in
response to the "two centers of power" conflict. ANC members
were being pushed to the side because they were "guilty" of
supporting Mbeki. Following the statement by the ANC
National Executive Committee (NEC) "recalling" Mbeki as SAG
president on September 20, Mbeki announced his resignation
the following day. In this atmosphere, close political
allies of Mbeki believed they faced an uncertain political
future.

3. In this dramatic turn of events, the NEC and Zuma himself
sought to reassure ANC office holders that he wished to them,
as ANC "deployees" to stay in their posts to assure stability
in this transition. However, today the ANC confirmed
resignations of Deputy President Mlambo-Ngcuka, Minister of
Defense Mosiuoa Lekota, Minister in the Presidency Essop
Pahad, Minister of Intelligence Ronnie Kasrils, Minister of
Public Enterprises Alec Erwin, Minister of Science and
Technology Mosimuba Mangena and Minister of Provincial and
Local Government Sydney Mfumadi. Despite Zuma's assurances,
this group is deeply distrusted by Zuma's supporters, and
though they are loyal ANC members, may not be asked to join
the government of temporary acting president Mothlante or a
Zuma cabinet after national elections in early 2009.

4. A number of other ministers that resigned today appear to
have done so primarily out of formality and loyalty to Mbeki
in a dramatic public act. Some of them have indicated that
they are prepared to serve under a new ANC President. These
ministers include; Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel,
Minister of Correctional Services Ngconde Balfour, Minister
of Public Works Thoko Didiza, Minister of Public Service and
Administration Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, Deputy Minister of
QAdministration Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, Deputy Minister of
Foreign Affairs Aziz Pahad, Deputy Minister of Finance Jabu
Moleketi and Deputy Minister of Correctional Services Loretta
Jacobus.

--------------------------------------
MLAMBO-NGCUKA -- GUILTY BY ASSOCIATION
--------------------------------------
5. While serving as head of the National Prosecuting
Authority (NPA) in 2001, Bulelani Ngcuka (the husband of
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka) announced after the corruption
charges were filed against Zuma advisor Shabir Shaik, that
the NPA had "a prime facie case" against Jacob Zuma, but the
NPA would not prosecute him at that time because they did not
have a winnable case. In 2005, Thabo Mbeki relieved Jacob
Zuma of his duties as SAG deputy president, following the
guilty verdict was reached against Schabir Shaik. Mbeki
replaced Zuma with Bulelani's wife Phumzile; earning her the
eternal distrust and dislike of Zuma's most ardent
supporters. This sentiment and her association with her
husband added unconfirmed speculation about an alleged
conspiracy against Zuma by Mbeki and his cabinet.

6. Phumzile was appointed as deputy president by President
Thabo Mbeki and is correctly perceived as a Mbeki loyalist
with little struggle credentials or individual standing
within the ANC. Although an ANC member she was never
affiliated to the ANC Women's League. Her appointment also
came at a time when Mbeki was promoting female representation
in government positions as well as the idea of a woman as his
successor in the presidency -- e.g., Phumzile. This
suggestion gained her no friends among Zuma's true believers.

--------------------------------
COMMENT: LOYALTY AND NATIONALISM
--------------------------------
7. In recent days, in response to the dramatic events
flowing from the ANC, local pundits and analysts have
speculated that the factionalism within the ANC could lead to
a split by disgruntled party members who would challenge the
core ANC in future elections. Post's view is that though
this may be a future prospect, it is unlikely for the near
term. As demonstrated by Mbeki, his loyalty to and respect
for the ANC provided him only one choice when the NEC
recalled him -- he obliged/complied. Similarly, it is likely
that if, after this dramatic group resignation, Zuma asks
these cabinet members to return and serve the ANC and South
Africa, the bulk of them will respond positively. However,
the friction between the supporters of Mbeki and Zuma is real
and deep. Such that some of these leaders will not be asked
to return.

BOST

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