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Cablegate: Political Notes From Durban and Cape Town

VZCZCXRO2909
RR RUEHBZ RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHDU #0057 2840705
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 100705Z OCT 08
FM AMCONSUL DURBAN
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN 0706

UNCLAS DURBAN 000057

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV SF
SUBJECT: POLITICAL NOTES FROM DURBAN AND CAPE TOWN

ANC is Confident in KwaZulu Natal

1. (SBU) African National Congress (ANC) Provincial chairperson
and Provincial Minister for Finance and Economic Development Dr.
Zweli Mkhize told Consul General and P/E Assistant in an
introductory call in late September that he was confident that
the ANC would win 60 percent of the vote in upcoming provincial
elections in KwaZulu Natal (KZN). He attributed the anticipated
success at the polls to the ANC's superior record of service
delivery in the province, in a range of areas. Dr. Mkhize
claimed that intra-party unity in the province was good and even
relations with the opposition Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) were
positive. He would not comment on the widely-held expectation
that he would succeed Sibusiso Ndebele as Premier of KZN or even
receive a national Cabinet portfolio, demurely noting, 'the ANC
first must focus on winning the election.' (Comment: We
consider a sacking of Ndebele as unlikely in KZN province, as
the ANC will need to rely on all party elements for support in
order to win the elections. End comment.)

Analysts are Critical

2. (SBU) Meanwhile, two political analysts from the University
of KZN voiced disappointment in the ANC's record of service
delivery in the province, highlighting problems with education,
policing and infrastructure. They told CG and P/E Asst in a
late September meeting that they were not convinced the ANC
would win the election, and confided that some diehard ANC
supporters in KZN were so discouraged that they would likely not
vote at all. Although intrigued by the rumors of a split in the
ANC, neither thought such a development would occur before 2009
elections or that it would decrease ANC's support significantly.

IFP Strategizes--at Provincial and National Level

3. (SBU) Reverend Musa Zondi of the IFP told CG and P/E Asst on
October 3 that his party has a realistic shot at winning the
province back in 2009. The IFP, which has a strong support base
in rural areas, will highlight the failure of the ANC to provide
services and infrastructure in certain rural districts. Rev.
Zondi acknowledged that the ANC had gained support in KZN since
it came into power in 2004, based on greater service delivery in
some rural settings. He also confirmed that Ms. Zanele Magwaza
Msibi will be the IFP's candidate for the KZN premiership.
(Comment: Rev. Zondi, who represents the moderates in the IFP,
lost out to Ms. Msibi in the intra-IFP nomination process; she
had the backing of Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who is a
traditionalist/hardliner. This choice is surprising,
considering the male-dominated cultural traditions within the
hardline camp of the party; and although she might do the
bidding of Buthelezi, she does not a have strong public profile
and could have a hard time wooing voters to the IFP. End
comment).

4. (SBU) As part of its election campaign commencement, Chief
Buthelezi launched the party's voter registration campaign on
Saturday, October 4. (Comment: The early start of the election
campaign indicates the IFP's seriousness about winning the
province. It can also be seen as IFP's strategic response to
the Independent Electoral Commission's announcement that KZN is
the province with the highest number of unregistered voters. End
comment.)

5. (SBU) Cape Town Econoff met with IFP MP Eric Lucas on 26
September. Lucas said the IFP is working through its election
strategy at the moment, and is currently employing a local
consultant to help map out the road ahead. The party is most
focused on its traditional KZN heartland, though it sees
opportunities for growth in Gauteng, Free State, and Mpumalanga.
Still, Lucas noted 10 percent of the national vote probably
would be the best case scenario. Money, per usual, is a big
problem, and complicated by the fact that Durban
businesses--long a key source of support--are throwing their lot
behind Jacob Zuma. The party is focused on trying to bring in
younger voters, though Lucas worries whether the party
leadership is sufficiently responsive on this issue. He thinks
the party needs new blood in Parliament, though it's unclear how
much of a turnover in the IFP ranks there will be. Many older
MPs who should go balk at the R5000 per month pension, which
they do not think is enough.

6. (SBU) Post collaborated with CG Cape Town and Embassy
Pretoria Political Section on this message.

DERDERIAN

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