Cablegate: Anc National Executive Council Reigns in Its Western Cape

DE RUEHTN #0247 3541418
P 191418Z DEC 08 ZDK



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) On December 17 and 18, the ANC National Executive Council
(NEC) met to discuss its roadmap for the upcoming months, in
particular with regards to the ANC provincial leadership in the
Western Cape. The Western Cape Provincial leadership of the African
National Congress (ANC) is again under fire this time for its
failure to register candidates on time for the recent by-elections
and the party's subsequent poor performance in the province. The
ruling party secured only three of the 27 wards contested in the
recent by-elections in the Western Cape. The ANC said it would have
performed better at the polls had its candidates in 12 of the wards
been allowed to stand. The blame for the by-election shambles has
been placed firmly at the door of provincial chairperson, Mcebisi

2. (U) The NEC decided not to suspend Skwatsha, but stripped the
provincial leadership of all powers. When asked by reporters whether
Skwatsha had been sanctioned for the party's failure to register for
the recent by-elections, national ANC spokesperson Carl Niehaus said
he had not. Emphasis had instead been put on what to do to
strengthen the party. Rather than disband the provincial leadership
and risk the total collapse of the party in the region, the NEC will
take control of the province. In addition, a high profile team of
top ANC officials has been deployed to the Western Cape to ensure
effective campaigning and strong leadership in the run up to the
national elections.

3. (SBU) On December 19, Poloff spoke to the Chief Whip of the ANC
(Booi), himself a member of the NEC, regarding the political
situation in the Western Cape. Booi said Skwatsha would remain in
office, but has been stripped of any decision making authority. A
team of NEC members has been sent to the Western Cape to try and
strengthen the party in the run up to the 209 national elections.
Booi also said the ANC is focusing heavily on the Western Cape in
the 2009 elections and, "will put a lot of energy into the
Province." He also said that current polls indicate the ANC will
win 26 percent of the vote in the Western Cape, "but the ANC wants
more." Poloff asked why the ANC is weaker in the Western Cape than
in other areas of SA and Booi responded, "because the core of the
community is colored and the colored are divided between the ANC and
other opposition parties." He said the ANC will heavily target the
colored communities in their Western Cape election campaigns. Booi
believes the low voter turnout in the recent by-law elections shows
"the people are angry that the ANC was not allowed to run and thinks
that the people who failed to vote as a protest to the by-law
elections, would vote for the ANC in the national elections."

4. (U) Comment: There is a growing political weakness (as well as
endemic disarray) in the ANC in the Western Cape; the leadership in
the province has long been surrounded by controversy and plagued
with problems. The former Premier Ebrahim Rasool was sacked,
aggravating discontent among the colored voters, the provincial
secretary was stabbed in the neck at a party event, and countless
other party meetings have been marred by intimidation and
allegations of patronage and vote-buying. When the ANC Youth League
gathered to elect its leadership in April, the conference was
suspended after some delegates got into drunken brawls, throwing
chairs and exposing themselves to the media. The ANC recently
expelled many of its regional secretaries in the Western Cape and
Qlocal members feel that the only thing that helped Skwatsha maintain
order was the fact that he had strong regional secretaries who did
the hard work and were able to cover for his inefficiency.

5. (U) Comment: The latest by-election debacle is merely another
step in the continued downward spiral of the ANC in the province.
The Western Cape has never been won outright by the ANC and remains
the only province where the party is not dominant. The City of Cape
Town is already in the hands of the opposition alliance and the ANC
has been struggling to regain its foothold in the province. With the
emergence of Cope and the strong gains made by the Democratic
Alliance in the by-election, it appears unlikely that the ANC will
make any significant gains in the province despite deploying members
to manage the party in the region. End comment.

© Scoop Media

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