Cablegate: South Africa Political Newsletter August 30-September 5

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1. (SBU) This was written in partnership with the Open Source
Center's Pretoria Bureau. The newsletter is open to contributions
from officers in the Embassy or in the Consulates who wish to
highlight political trends. Contact Madeline Seidenstricker or
Jonathan Smallridge for more information, or to make contributions.
The newsletter also is available on the Political Section's blog, "A
View from South Africa," found on

International News

Zuma Urges Support for Obama's Efforts in Middle East

2. (U) Addressing the South African Jewish Board of Deputies on
August 29, President Zuma said that the only viable solution for the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict was one that fulfils the aspirations of
both parties for independent homelands through two states for the
two peoples, adding that President Obama's efforts in pursuit of a
two-state solution "should be supported". Zuma said Pretoria
supports the United Nations position on the issue and condemns "all
forms of violence from whatever quarter, particularly where
civilians are targeted". Zuma also told the audience that although
South Africa was made up of diverse communities, individual
identities must not be above our national identity. (The
Presidency, September 4)

DICO on IBSA Ministerial

3. The Department of International Relations and Cooperation
recapped the visit of DICO Minister Nkoana-Mashabane to Brazil for a
trilateral ministerial meeting hosted by her counterpart Celso
Amorim and attended by India's External Relations minister S. M.
Krishna. The three ministers reportedly reaffirmed their countries'
commitment to further strengthening the role of IBSA and dealing
with United Nations Reform, the international financial and economic
crisis, the increase of international trade, and condemning
terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. The next IBSA summit
is scheduled for October 8 in Brazil.

Zuma's Trip to Zimbabwe

4. (U) President Zuma ended his two-day working visit to Zimbabwe
after opening the 99th Harare Agricultural Show. Zuma visited
Zimbabwe in the capacity as South African President and SADC
Chairperson and was hosted by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe at
a State banquet. Zuma reiterated that there are clear signs that
Zimbabwe is on the road to recovery and urged that the Global
Political Agreement be fully implemented without delay. Zuma met
with all the signatories to the agreement, and stated that effective
recovery is also dependent on the removal of sanctions and other
measures to hold back economic development. (The Presidency, August

11-Nation Military Exercise Under Way in Northern Cape

5. (U) The Citizen reports that the single largest multinational
peace-enforcement exercise to be staged in South Africa since the
advent of democracy is currently under way at the SA Army Combat
Training Centre in Northern Cape. More than 8,000 soldiers from 11
SADC countries, most of them from the SANDF, are taking part in
Exercise Golfinho. Participating countries include Angola, Botswana,
Lesotho, Mozambique, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland,
Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Military observers locally, including
a number at diplomatic level, view the exercise as a litmus test for
the SANDF in its efforts to improve regional co-operation in
peacekeeping and peace support. (Privately-owned weekday

SA Government Will Not Oppose Lawsuits Against US Companies
QSA Government Will Not Oppose Lawsuits Against US Companies

6. (U) Justice Minister Jeff Radebe has written to the presiding
judge of the US District Court of the southern district of New York
reversing the government decision under former president Thabo Mbeki
not to support lawsuits that were launched in New York by the
victims of apartheid and their organization, Khulumani Support
Group. Eight international companies face litigation following a
South African government decision not to continue opposing the
lawsuits against them. The conglomerates being sued in the class
action are Barclays, Daimler, Ford, Fujitsu, General Motors, IBM,
Rheinmetall and UBS. The claim is based on the United States' Alien
Tort Statute, which allows people anywhere in the world to make
claims against US-based corporations that have caused damage to
them. The lawsuits relate to aiding and abetting serious crimes
such as torture and extrajudicial killings by the apartheid regime
in violation of international law. The government welcomed this
development, Radebe stated, and would be willing to offer its

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counsel to the parties in pursuit of a settlement if requested to do
so. The April judgment substantially narrowed the claims,
previously against 23 corporations. As a class action, it provides
for the inclusion of all affected individuals. (Johannesburg
Business Report Online, September 3, 2009)

Domestic News

Human Settlement Minister to Improve Housing

7. (U) Human Settlement Minister Tokyo Sexwale spent a night in the
Diepsloot informal settlement north of Johannesburg last month. He
then visited the N2 Gateway housing project in Cape Town, which is
currently facing massive housing backlogs. The visits are part of a
fact-finding mission to understanding the living conditions in
informal settlements. Late last week, Sexwale met with banks and
businesses, urging them to lend a hand in solving the country's
housing problem. Sexwale said his immediate mission was to find
building contractors and companies to build new government houses.
The Human Settlement Department has set the target of building
226,000 houses a year as more than 635 million people still need
houses. In June, Sexwale told Parliament that expenditure on
housing service delivery had increased to roughly $1 billion USD.
Sexwale since coming to office this year has approved over 570
housing projects and received billions in housing grants from the
private sector. (Sowetan, August 31, 2009)

African National Congress Gains Edge in By-Elections
8. (U) Municipalities in Limpopo, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape
held by-elections this week. In Limpopo, the African National
Congress (ANC) and the Democratic Alliance (DA) retained their wards
in two municipalities as both parties won with overwhelming
majorities. The ANC gained two wards in Thulamela municipality.
The DA won most of the wards in Tzaneen followed by the ANC. The
Limpopo Electoral Officer, Nkaro Mateta, told the SABC the
by-elections went smoothly. In the Eastern Cape, the ANC won all
their wards except one as the DA retained its ward in the Nelson
Mandela Bay Metro by 65 percent. In the Northern Cape, the DA
retained Ward One with a majority of 57 percent of the votes. The
Independent Democrats (ID) came in second with 19 percent, followed
by the ANC with 15 percent, the Freedom Front Plus with 6 percent
and the Congress of the People (COPE) with 4 percent. Other parties
that contested the election were COPE, African Christian Democratic
Party, Pan-African Congress, and the ID. COPE made a key gain in
Gauteng, winning a ward in the Ekhuruleni region. (SABCNEWS,
September 2, 2009)
Judicial Service Commission decided not to investigate Judge Hlophe
9. (U) The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has decided not to
continue investigating allegations that Judge John Hlophe
inappropriately tried to influence judges of the Constitutional
Court. The decision was announced last week, two weeks after the
decision was made behind closed doors. In July, Zuma increased
members of the JSC by adding two Members of Parliament from the
ruling party. There is some speculation the presidential
appointments to the commission may have influenced the debate in
favor of a decision not to continue with investigations.
(NEWS24.COM, August 31, 2009)
Presidential Hotline to be ready in September
10. (U) The Presidency will launch the President's service delivery
hotline at the end of September 2009. Presidency official Vusi Mona
Qhotline at the end of September 2009. Presidency official Vusi Mona
told government employees on Monday in Centurion that the
infrastructure was in place, cables were still being laid and
furniture brought in. Moni reported that more than 70 officials are
being trained as call center operators, and specialized units are
being created in various government departments to help them with
problems raised by callers. The presidential hotline will cost
roughly $800,000 USD to set up and roughly $700,000 USD for staff
salaries a year. Zuma promised the hotline in his State of the
Nation address. According to the Presidency, when Zuma moved into
his office he received over 500 calls, e-mails, letters and visits
from the public each week on service delivery, but the number has
increased to 1,300 a week. (The Star, September 1, 2009)
Bus Rapid Transit Attacked
11. (U) Two people this week were injured when a minibus taxi opened
fire on a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) bus in Soweto. The BRT is a
government initiative to improve public transport in country.
However, taxi operators are opposing the project in fear that it
would destroy their livelihoods. Last week, the South African
National Taxi Council applied for an urgent interdict in the North
Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to stop government from implementing
the bus system. The interdict was rejected and the BRT was launched
on August 30. Many political analysts say the attack this week is
similar to the turf wars fought in the 1980s between taxi
associations and individual minibus taxi drivers. The city of
Johannesburg has condemned the violent incident and has called on
all law enforcement to step up measures of protecting passengers,
BRT staff and property. (, September, 02, 2009)

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RSA: Soldiers Threaten 'More Mass Action' if Concerns Are Not
12. (U) Pretoria News reports that members of the South African
National Defense Force (SANDF) members are threatening more mass
action throughout the country, which may result in violence, if
Defense Minister Lindiwe Sisulu does not address their grievances
soon. In a two-day meeting at which the union discussed the clash
between police and soldiers at the Union Buildings last Wednesday,
South African Security Forces Union (SASFU) president Bhekinkosi
Mvovo made it clear that union members did not wish to resort to
violence and wanted to resolve their problems within the confines of
the law. However, he warned that if issues like racism and
transformation in the SANDF were not resolved soon there could be
dire consequences. SASFU indicated that they are going to fight and
defend their members, "no matter at what cost". Meanwhile, Mvovo
rejected statements made by the acting chief of the SANDF,
Lieutenant-General Themba Matanzima, speaking of a plot by
disgruntled soldiers to abduct top military officials, including the
minister. (Local daily, privately owned by Independent Newspaper

Intelligence Agency Refuses Comment on Rumors of Zuma Ally

13. (U) News24 reports that the National Intelligence Agency (NIA)
refused to reveal on Sunday whether Durban businessman and "Key Zuma
Ally" Mo Shaik would be appointed as the agency's new director
general. Although Mo Shaik denied the allegation, NIA spokesperson
Lorna Daniels said the announcement would be made by the presidency
once all the necessary procedures had been followed. DA's
spokesperson for state security Theo Coetzee said the party would
oppose this nomination. (Privately-owned 24-hour Internet news
service with emphasis on news from South Africa and Africa; URL:

New Top Cop Discusses Observations Following Tour of Police

14. (U) SAFM "After 8 Debate" program: Announcer Tim Modise
interviewed National Police Commissioner Bheki Cele on his
observations following his tour of police stations throughout the
nine provinces. Cele said that he met with the provincial management
and the station commissioners of all 1,116 stations in South Africa,
and remarked that there are "pockets of excellence" in policing in
the country as well as "areas that need to be fixed". According to
Cele, policing resources need to be proportionally distributed and
concentrated in areas that require more attention. Discussing
future strategies for reducing crime, Cele said that the police's
top management and provincial leadership will be going to a retreat
to map out the new strategic direction of the force. One of the key
areas that will be focused on is "priority crimes", which includes
car hijackings, murders, rape and abuse, among others. (National
SABC radio service, nominally independent but partially funded by


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