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Cablegate: South Africa Political Newsletter October 13-October 16

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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

Domestic News

RSA Muslims Fault Academic's Claim of Terror Plot Within Local
Community in 2010

2. (SBU) Pretoria-based International Institute for Islamic Studies
(IIIS) Professor Hussein Solomon issued a paper claiming that
"militants" had already established terror cells in South Africa,
ahead of the 2010 World Cup; he linked the National Intelligence
Agency's (NIA's)recent interception of a telephone call, reportedly
made from Khayelitsha, to a supposed Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab
extremist group in Somalia. Voice of the Cape Online reported on 14
October that a Muslim academic, Dr. Rashid Omar, rejected Solomon's
allegations. Several VOC contributors likewise dismissed Solomon's
claims and called on him to substantiate them. The Al Jamah Party
said the IIIS was full of people "most hostile" to Muslims and
lacked credibility. However, the percentage of VOC online poll
participants who did not agree with Solomon's claims dropped from
82% two years ago to just under 60%. [Website of Voice of the Cape
radio station, reporting local and international news of importance
to the South African Muslim community; URL:]

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RSA: Chief of Somali Community Denies Members' Involvement in

3. (SBU) Spokesmen for Somalis in South Africa also rejected
Solomon's charges. Sheikh Abdirashid Afi Sheik, chairperson of the
Somali Community Board in Western Cape, told Voice of the Cape on 13
October that "Somali's were happy with the South African government
for offering them asylum and would not abuse the privilege by
engaging in terrorism activities." A number of Somalis to whom VOC
spoke "strongly denied" the allegations fearing these could "incite
further local South Africans to act against us," in light of
previous xenophobic attacks against them. [Cape Town Voice of the
Cape Online in English -- Website of Voice of the Cape radio
station, reporting local and international news of importance to the
South African Muslim community; URL:]

NIA Spokesperson Dismisses Muslim Academic's Claim of Terror Cells
in RSA

4. (SBU) In an interview with SAfm on 13 October, the NIA sought to
allay fears of possible foreign terrorist attacks ahead of the 2010
FIFA World Cup. NIA spokesperson Lorna Daniels refused to comment on
Solomon's terror claims, saying his analysis was not based on
accurate information. She added that the NIA was working on "all
threats" saying the 2010 preparations was "another major aspect" of
the NIA's work. [National SABC radio service, nominally independent
but partially funded by government]

RSA Paper Faults Plan To Establish White Farmers in Other African

5. (SBU) The Citizen's 13 October editorial said that Agriculture
Minister Tina Joemat-Petersen's announcement that government is
supporting a new drive to establish white SA farmers in other
African countries "resembles Monty Python-esque absurdity."
Joemat-Petersen reportedly told farmers' organization AgriSA that
QJoemat-Petersen reportedly told farmers' organization AgriSA that
government remained committed to transferring 30% of white-owned
farmland to blacks within five years but that "this would leave
little room for white farmers to expand," therefore, the government
was negotiating deals with five countries. The paper pointed out
that South Africa has become a net importer of food over the past
two years and that there was "more than anecdotal evidence" that
many black farmers were struggling to sustain production on land
acquired by them, and that many such farms are lying fallow.
Further, the paper added that up to 800 commercial white farmers,
pushed by uncertainties over land claims, have already sought
greener pastures in countries like Mozambique without government
support. So the "sudden concern" for white farmers was "hard to
stomach." [Privately-owned weekday newspaper]

Zuma Tells "the Left" To Give Him Space

6. (U) African National Congress (ANC) Secretary general Gwede
Mantashe told the ruling party's alliance partners - the Congress of
South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist

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Party (SACP) - to respect the autonomy of the ANC and to give it
space to implement its election manifesto. During the Alliance
Political Council meeting at Luthuli House in Johannesburg on
October 12, the ANC leadership laid down the rules of engagement and
told left-leaning organizations to stay out of its affairs. The
meeting was attended by ANC top leadership and national office
bearers from COSATU and the SACP. The Sowetan newspaper reported
that the ANC delegation sought to reaffirm itself as the leader of
the alliance, after some senior ANC leaders have accused COSATU of
trying to take over the party. (Sowetan, October, 13, 2009)

Service Delivery Protests Continue

7. (U) Service delivery protests are spreading throughout
Mpumalanga. In Bethal, community members on October 12 blockaded
roads to prevent traffic in the Mzinoni Township, disgruntled
residents in Kinross in Mpumalanga started gathering at the local
sports ground waiting for Mayor Sipho Nkosi to address them, and in
the Siyathuthuka Township near Belfast there were violent protests
that led to the arrest of 18 people. (SABCNEWS, October, 13, 2009)

White Farmers Upset in Limpopo

8. (U) Farmers in Mbahela have accused the Limpopo Department of
Agriculture of using apartheid-era tactics to take farms to give to
cronies. Farmers say the Department "imposed" a partnership between
the government and a company to impart skills on previously
disadvantaged farmers, which led to some official siphoning off
land. Government officials claim that the farmers were warned that
the provincial government planned to divide their farms with
disadvantaged farmers, and spokesperson Thembi Makhuvele said it was
a strategy the department was using to turn agriculture production
around in the province. (Sowetan, October, 15, 2009)

International News

RSA: Trade Minister Comments on 'Major' Trade Policy Challenges
Facing Country

9. (U) Radio SAfm interviewed Trade and Industry Minister Dr. Rob
Davies on 13 October on the major trade policy challenges facing
South Africa. Davies cited an "active industrial policy" as a major
focus of South Africa's trade policies which could affect tariff
policy for "high employment" sectors as well as the pursuit of
developmental region integration, particularly in South Africa's
approach to the Southern African Customs Union and the Southern
African Development Community. Asked how realistic were the
Millennium Development Goals - particularly halving unemployment and
the promise of creating half a million decent jobs - given the
economic downturn, Davies said the government's [ANC] manifesto
commitment was to "do everything we can to create decent work,"
adding that "we will be working energetically to create the maximum
number of jobs" given the opportunities of the industrial sectors
linked to the infrastructure investment program. [National SABC
radio service, nominally independent but partially funded by

Zuma Returns from Brazil

10. (U) President Zuma arrived back in South Africa on October 10,
having concluded his two day State Visit to Brazil where he attended
a Business Forum in Sao Paulo, met with Brazilian President Lula Da
Silva in Brasilia and met with Sao Paulo Governor, Jose Serra. He
addressed a Business Forum organized to facilitate interaction
between South African and Brazilian business. The forum was
attended by a 50-strong delegation of business representatives from
Qattended by a 50-strong delegation of business representatives from
South Africa. On the trip, he was accompanied by International
Relations and Cooperation Minister (DIRCO) Maite Nkoane Mashabane,
Sport and Recreation Minister Makhenkesi Stofile, and Trade and
Industry Minister Rob Davies. (The Presidency, October 10)

Government Visit to Sweden a Success

11. (U) Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, accompanied by Deputy
Minister Sue van der Merwe, concluded his two day working visit to
Sweden after attending the Olaf Palme Day Conference and other
series of meetings with the civil society of Sweden. Motlanthe had
an informal lunch with the leader of the Social Democratic Party of
Sweden, Mona Sahlin, and was the Guest of Honor at the Olaf Palme
Day Conference. Motlanthe also met with members of the Swedish
Business Community, the Swedish Solidarity Groups and the Chairman
of Stockholm Enskilda Bank. (The Presidency, October 11)

Government Focused on Western Sahara

12. (U) DIRCO Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim held discussions with

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the Speaker of the Saharawi National Assembly and Head of the
Polisario Front delegation in the negotiation with Morocco, Mahfud
Ali Beiba, in Pretoria on October 9. The discussions held with
Beiba were within the context of South Africa's continued support
for international efforts toward Western Sahara self-determination
in accordance with democratic principles and United Nations
resolutions. (DIRCO Briefing, October 9)

South Africa, Russia to Meet in Late October

13. (U) The Intergovernmental Committee On Trade And Economic
Cooperation (ITEC) with the Russian Federation will take place on
October 26 and 27 in South Africa. South Africa will be led by
DIRCO Minister Mashabane, while the Russian side will be led by
Minister of Natural Resources Yuri Trutnev. The two sides are
expected to discuss issues about the reform of the United Nations
Security Council (UNSC) and the Brazil, Russia, India and China
(BRIC) forum. There is a standing invitation to Zuma from President
Dmitry Medvedev to visit Russia within the next six months. (DIRCO
Briefing, October 13)

South Africa, DRC to Meet in Late October

14. (U) The Bi-National Commission between the Democratic Republic
of the Congo (DRC) and South Africa will take place on October 30.
The meetings will be preceded by a private ministerial meeting. A
number of issues are expected to be on the table, including the
progress of post-conflict reconstruction, and assistance for the DRC
police and security forces. (DIRCO Briefing, October 13)

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