Cablegate: Anc President Jacob Zuma Addresses Press Club

P 101446Z NOV 08


E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) African National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma
addressed the Cape Town Press Club at a breakfast meeting on Friday
November 7, 2008. Mr. Zuma opened his address by referring to the
U.S. elections and reflecting on his recent visit to the United
States. He highlighted the importance of continued co-operation
between the U.S. and South Africa and congratulated President-Elect
Obama on his historic victory. Mr. Zuma hailed Obama's victory as a
victory for non-racialism. He said that it was an exciting milestone
in the history of Americans and the world, and that it was the
beginning of a new era for international relations.

2. (U) During the question and answer session Jacob Zuma was asked
what the ANC would do to curb possible election violence in the
upcoming 2009 elections. He said the country would hold peaceful
elections next year and pledged to reign in officials from the
party's youth league who have made inflammatory statements. Zuma
also said the ANC had noted fears expressed by some opinion makers
that the 2009 elections may be fraught with violence, and that South
Africans should not encourage such pessimism. He continued by saying
the South African democracy has matured since 1994 and there is no
reason why a robust contest between political parties should lead to
violence. Mr. Zuma was also asked whether he would stop singing the
Umshini wam song, as it is seen by many as a call to violence.
Note: Jacob Zuma regularly encourages supporters at political
rallies to sing a revolutionary song entitled Umshini Wam, which
literally means "bring me my machine gun." The song has become
synonymous with the ANC President and remains very controversial as
many feel that the modern political message should be about
reconciliation, peace and development. End note. While Zuma agreed
that the ANC must oppose any political violence and teach the young
people to live peacefully he failed to give a definitive answer on
whether he would continue to sing the song. When asked specifically
about Julius Malema, leader of the ANC Youth League, Mr. Zuma said
that the issue had been addressed with Malema. Note: Julius Malema
has threatened to 'kill' for Zuma and warned that any attempt to
prevent Zuma from becoming president could be met with violence. End
note. Zuma said that Malema is like any other hot headed young man
who will mature with time and added that even Nelson Mandela was hot
headed as a young man.

3. (U) Responding to a question regarding government corruption,
and, in particular the tender process, Mr. Zuma said the final
decisions on government tenders must be taken out of the hands of
politicians. He suggested creating a tender board to address this
issue. Zuma was also asked whether he believed it would be a good
for President Motlanthe to remain in office for a five year term for
the sake of the country's stability. Zuma said he did not operate as
an individual and his views on this matter are shaped by the ANC,
and the ANC has the final word on that matter.

4 (U) The issue of Zimbabwe was also raised and the question asked
whether Thabo Mbeki should be removed as mediator since many people
feel that Mbeki's ties to President Mugabe cloud his judgment. Zuma
said that it was up to SADC to deal with Zimbabwe, and also noted
that the ANC would not interfere with Mbeki's role as mediator as
Mbeki represented the SADC group not South Africa specifically.

5. (U) Note: The event was attended by about 150 people, including
the CG and Consulate staff. Throughout the event Mr. Zuma appeared
at ease and made light of his judicial and political woes. He
Qat ease and made light of his judicial and political woes. He
remains a powerful politician who profoundly affects South Africa
and its future. He responded warmly to often hostile questions and
like any good politician he avoided answering difficult questions by
offering pleasantries and a smile. End note.

© Scoop Media

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