Search

 

Cablegate: Lekota Personal Assistant Warns "Watch Out For

VZCZCXRO6676
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMA RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHTRO
DE RUEHSA #1782/01 2450849
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 020849Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9495
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 7100
RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN 1192
RUEHJO/AMCONSUL JOHANNESBURG 9464
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PRETORIA 001782

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KDEM ASEC SF PGOV
SUBJECT: LEKOTA PERSONAL ASSISTANT WARNS "WATCH OUT FOR
SHILOWA"

PRETORIA 00001782 001.2 OF 002


-------
Summary
-------

1. (SBU) The Congress of the People (COPE) has been in the
news recently not for the party's stance on key issues or for
its plans for tackling problems at the national and
provincial levels. Rather, COPE has been in the news for the
continued political infighting that has plagued the party
since it appointed Mvume Dandala as its presidential
candidate over Mosiuoa Lekota. Poloffs met with Lekota's
personal assistant, Tseliso Phomane, in mid-August to discuss
the key challenges facing COPE and where the party will be
headed before the 2011 local elections. End Summary.

---------------------------------------------
From Nothing to a Party With Responsibilities
---------------------------------------------

2. (SBU) COPE organizer Tseliso Phomane met with Poloffs in
mid-August to discuss the state of the party and the
direction it will take ahead of the local elections.
Phomane, who nearly died because of poor health and the
stress of the election campaign, said that he has not been
actively involved in the party for a few months but still
talks to Lekota daily. He opened the discussion about COPE
by saying that the party "never recovered from the decision
to field Dandala as its presidential candidate." He said,
"People had no idea who the face of the party was during the
campaign." He judged the party lost money and numerous
voters because it could not be clear about party leadership
and related, "We could have been in power right now had
different decisions been made." Phomane attributed the
leadership divisions to the fact that both Lekota and former
Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa "have massive egos."
According to him, "Both men want nothing more than to be
President of South Africa." He said, "When Shilowa could not
get enough support to be the face of the campaign, he turned
to a compromise candidate." Regarding the choice of Dandala
as the party's face during the campaign, Phomane said that
Lekota was personally devastated. He related, "The wounds
are still fresh. He has yet to recover." He added that the
party's decision not to send Lekota to Parliament only added
to his wounds.

3. (SBU) Given Phomane's close ties to Lekota, Poloff asked
whether Shilowa has similar "smart strategists" to advise
him. Phomane answered that Shilowa is "very well-connected
to Gauteng business leaders -- both black and white." He
added, "Shilowa's people are smart, but they are also
ruthless. They will see to it that Lekota is pushed aside
and that Shilowa is positioned to be the leader of the
party." He said he expects a lot of political posturing to
occur in the months ahead of COPE's national executive
committee meeting in December, where leaders will be elected.
He noted, "The posturing will be behind closed doors. I do
not expect it to be about criticizing African National
Congress legislation or the Jacob Zuma government. It will
be about quiet meetings and handshakes." Phomane said, "In
the end, I expect Shilowa to be COPE's leader and
presidential candidate for 2014." He pointed out that Lekota
goes to COPE's headquarters every day and is actively trying
to build branches. He said, "Lekota has grassroots support,
but Shilowa has the connections that will move the
organization forward." According to him, "There are reports
Qorganization forward." According to him, "There are reports
that Lekota is pushing members out to insert officials
favorable to his own ambitions. I just do not buy that
because Lekota just wants the branches to succeed. It is not
about him." When asked where COPE has picked up ground since
the election, Phomane replied that the areas with the most
potential for growth appear to be in the Eastern Cape and in
Northwest.

4. (SBU) Phomane ended the meeting by trying to give a
positive spin on COPE's situation, but his body language
belied his words. He said, "We did an amazing job getting
one million votes over a period of five months. No one can
take that any from us." According to him, "We will win more
cities in the municipal elections and be well positioned for
2014." The party is open to forming coalitions and is still
in quiet discussions with the Democratic Alliance (DA) about
partnering in certain areas ahead of 2011. Yet, he said, "It
is different when you are negotiating out of necessity than

PRETORIA 00001782 002.2 OF 002


out of strength (implying the DA is the stronger of the two
parties)." He added that COPE needs a strong research branch
like the one the DA has. Despite his statements, he jokingly
said that he was looking to leave South Africa because he
does not see much hope for the future of the country under
the ANC and Zuma. When Poloff asked him if COPE could
things, he said, "Maybe."

-------
Comment
-------

5. (SBU) Phomane remains as close to Lekota as anyone so his
insight into the party carries weight. The ongoing political
infighting in COPE may not be entirely bad. One reason it
may not be bad is that it is happening now rather than during
an election campaign. The party has plenty of time to work
through personality clashes and to sort through political
appointments. Another reason it may not be bad is that it
could rid the organization of several big egos. Most
political analysts and commentators agreed during the
election campaign that Lekota would not have been a strong
face for the party over the long term. Shilowa and his
allies may be "ruthless," but Gauteng was probably governed
more effectively than the Defense ministry was under Lekota.
Thus, what COPE loses in the short term because of infighting
it may gain in the long term in terms of a vision for the
2011 elections.
GIPS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 


Human Rights: China Journalist Jailed For COVID Reporting Seriously Ill, Must Be Released

UN human rights experts* today urged China to immediately release imprisoned citizen journalist and woman human rights defender Zhang Zhan on humanitarian grounds, saying her health is deteriorating rapidly and her life is in danger... More>>

CID: PNG Deadly Covid Crisis Getting Worse
People in Papua New Guinea are not getting enough Covid vaccines due to misinformation. This is causing immense stress and suffering throughout the country, says Quenelda Clegg Chair of CID’s Humanitarian Network...More>>


Sudan: Bachelet Condemns Killings Of Peaceful Protesters

At least 39 people have been killed by security forces in Sudan since the 25 October military coup, 15 of whom were reportedly shot dead on Wednesday, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights...
More>>


Focus On: UN SDGs

Food: Three Billion People Cannot Afford A Healthy Diet

Approximately three billion people, almost 40 per cent of the world’s population, cannot afford a healthy diet and another one billion people would join their ranks should further unpredictable events reduce incomes by one-third, the UN food agency said, launching a new report on Tuesday... More>>

COP26: Enough Of ‘Treating Nature Like A Toilet’ – Guterres Brings Stark Call For Climate Action To Glasgow
As the World Leaders Summit opened on day two of COP26, UN chief António Guterres sent a stark message to the international community. “We are digging our own graves”, he said, referring to the addiction to fossil fuels which threatens to push humanity and the planet, to the brink, through unsustainable global heating... More>>


Climate: ‘Vague’ Net Zero Promises Not Enough: Planet Still On Track For Catastrophic Heating, UN Report Warns

New and updated commitments made ahead of the pivotal climate conference COP26 in the past months are a positive step forward, but the world remains on track for a dangerous global temperature rise of at least 2.7°C this century even if fully met, a new report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has warned... More>>