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Cablegate: Cape Town Mayor Discusses Local, National And

DE RUEHTN #0245/01 3530945
P 180945Z DEC 08



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) On December 12, Cape Town CG, Poloff and Polasst met with
City of Cape Town Mayor and Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen
Zille. Mayor Zille was enthusiastic about the strong gains the DA
made in the recent by-elections, particularly in the Western Cape.
She said that although the results were distorted since the African
National Congress (ANC) did not fully participate in the Western
Cape elections, the by-elections are an indication of the public's
deep dissatisfaction with the ANC. She was especially pleased with
the DA's gains in Kosovo, an exclusively Xhosa speaking community.
DA support in this area went from 0.3 percent in the last election
to 25 percent. Kosovo was identified early on by the Mayor's office
as the area with the greatest needs. As Mayor, Zille led the way in
providing electricity, infrastructure and healthcare for the
community and regarded the area as a test case of what can be
achieved by city and provincial leaders. She remained optimistic
about the DA's future and growth and said she expected the party to
win the Eastern Cape from the ANC with the help of coalition

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2. (SBU) On a national level, Zille is concerned about the actions
of certain ANC leaders, particularly Vavi, Nzimande and Malema who
are all closely linked to ANC President Jacob Zuma. Zille feels the
ANC is losing its way and that it would resort to intimidation and
cries of racism because they have used this tactic in the past.
Zille also said that if Jacob Zuma becomes president the realignment
of the political environment will happen a lot sooner and a
coalition government would win the elections in 2014. Although Zille
said the Western Cape election results would not be replicated
nationally in 2009, she did say the DA would see some gains across
South Africa and that the by- elections were the start of the DA's
move towards being a governing party with growing support from South
Africans of all races.

3. (SBU) When discussing the 2010 World Cup, Zille indicated the
costs of the stadium and planning are a source of concern as the
project is currently about R1 billion over budget. She said that
plans were underway to get national government to step in and ease
some of the financial burden, but this was still in the planning
stages. She also expects the worldwide economic downturn to have an
adverse effect on the 2010 preparations in the short term, but
expects the economy to pick up by 2010. According to Zille's studies
and projections, most 2010 visitors will come from Latin America and
the United Kingdom. Latin America is relatively close to South
Africa, approximately six hours by plane, which makes traveling to
the 2010 events short and relatively cheap. Zille does not expect
many visitors from the U.S. due its distance from South Africa.

4. (SBU) Zille also said recent taxi violence could disrupt the
smooth operations of the World Cup. There are currently 150 taxi
associations in Cape Town, all of whom mistrust each other and are
deeply suspicious of any perceived benefits the other may receive.
As a result there is little, if any, progress in negotiations
between the various factions. The problem is having far reaching
consequences as it is preventing investors from developing in and
around Cape Town, a situation that will ultimately affect everyone
as development leads to employment, infrastructure development and
increased property values. Zille stated that one possible solution
to the taxi problem is to call in the army to subdue taxi drivers
Qto the taxi problem is to call in the army to subdue taxi drivers
and try to re-establish order ahead of the 2010 World Cup.

5. (SBU) Upon reflecting on international events, Zille feels the
election of President elect Obama is vitally important as an example
of the victory of hard work and endurance. She said that Obama's
achievement of overcoming poverty and working hard towards a target
should serve as a reminder to all young people of what can be
achieved when dedicated to a goal. She also feels that the U.S.
needs to be more prudent when dealing with the economy, as there is
a duty on capitalist economies to adhere to sound economic
principles and not practice what she calls "casino economics." On
the subject of Zimbabwe she believes the only way to solve the
crises is for the United Nations to step in and take a firm stand on
the issues. SADC has failed the people of Zimbabwe and proved to be
utterly incapable of dealing with Mugabe. Zimbabwe has now reached a
point where it is posing a danger to the stability, economies and
health of the rest of the African continent and this can only be
resolved with UN and international intervention.

6. (SBU) On a personal note, Zille talked about her future as Mayor
of Cape Town and the leader of the DA. She said she has to make a
decision whether to continue as Mayor, run for Premier of the
province or assume the role as DA leader in Parliament. She is
currently contemplating all these options and will make a decision
once all the data has been collated. She, however, said that if it
were a personal choice she would rather remain Mayor as this is
where her heart is. She feels she can make a real difference at a
local level and has seen the results of her work. Zille also noted
there are still many challenges facing the city such a curbing land
invasions, land restitution and providing adequate housing to
impoverished communities.

CAPE TOWN 00000245 002 OF 002

7. (SBU) Biographical note: Helen Zille began her career as a
journalist on the Rand Daily Mail and in 1980 she went on an IV
program to the U.S. She later became a political activist involved
in various NGOs and organizations, including the Open Society
Foundation, the Independent Media Diversity Trust, and the Black
Sash. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of
Witwatersrand, and joined the former Democratic Party in the mid
1990s, where she was asked to reformulate the party's education
policy and stand as a candidate on its election list for the Western
Cape legislature. She also acted as Technical Adviser to the party
at CODESA in the early 1990s. She was elected to the provincial
parliament in the 1999 general election and appointed Member of the
Executive Council (MEC) for education. She served as MEC under the
newly formed Democratic Alliance until 2001, and then as leader of
the opposition in the Provincial Legislature until she was elected
to national parliament in 2004. As a member of parliament she stood
on the Portfolio Committee on Education, and acted as the Democratic
Alliance's National Spokesperson. In May 2006, Zille was elected
mayor of Cape Town and in 2007, she was elected leader of the
Democratic Alliance. Most recently she was awarded the honor of
"World's Best Mayor." End note.

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