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Cablegate: South Africa Political Newsletter October 19-October 23

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SUBJECT: SOUTH AFRICA POLITICAL NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 19-OCTOBER 23

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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 intelink.gov.

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Domestic News
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President Disappointed Democratic Alliance in Power in Western Cape


2. (U) President Jacob Zuma told members of the provincial general
council meeting in Mitchell's Plain Cape Town that he was
disappointed the Democratic Alliance (DA) is in power in Western
Cape Province following its victory in the April election. The
president was addressing a provincial council meeting in the Western
Cape on October 18. He shared with the province what the African
National Congress (ANC) needs to do to rebuild its structures and
branches for the 2011 elections. Zuma's remarks come after months
of infighting in the Western Cape, which led to ANC National
Executive committee dismantling the leadership in July. (SABCNEWS,
October, 18, 2009)

Service Delivery Tops Zuma's Agenda

3. (U) Zuma met with executive mayors and city mangers to discuss
the state of local governments and service delivery improvement.
Premiers and municipal managers also attended the meeting, which was
held in Khayelitsha, Cape Town on October 20. The meeting follows
service delivery improvement meetings held by the President in
August. According to the Presidency's office, Zuma decided to take a
more direct approach in dealing with local government issues and all
matters of service delivery. Zuma was accompanied by Monitoring and
Evaluation Minister Collins Chabane, National Planning Commission
Minister Trevor Manuel, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, Human
Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale and Cooperative Governance and
Traditional Affairs Minister Sicelo Shiceka. (BuaNews, October, 20,
2009)

ANC in Gauteng Province Accuses Communist Party of Inciting Protests


4. (U) The ANC in Gauteng has accused South African Communist Party
(SACP) members of inciting service delivery protests in
Johannesburg. Addressing the media in Johannesburg, Gauteng ANC
Provincial Secretary David Makhura told reporters that the ANC has
evidence that the protest were organized by the SACP. He cited
factionalism in the province as the motive.


Congress of South African Trade Unions Want Food Prices Regulated

5. (U) The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has
called on the government to put measures in place to tackle
increasing food prices. COSATU members handed a memorandum to the
Ministry of Agriculture in Parliament on World Food day in protest
against high food prices. COSATU Spokesperson Tony Ehrenreich said
the union was concerned that prices for basic foods such as bread
and milk had not gone down despite global trends. The union said
World Food Day is as a reminder that the world can produce enough
food to feed all human beings. Millions experience regular hunger
owing to profit driven food production, processing, and procurement
and distribution distortions. (October, 19, 2009)

Nelspruit changes to Mbombela

6. (U) The name of Mpumalanga Province's capital city has been
changed from Nelspruit to Mbombela. The change follows Arts and
Culture Minister Lulu Xingwana's publication in the government
QCulture Minister Lulu Xingwana's publication in the government
gazette of 42 geographical name changes which were approved between
July and September 2009. Some of the approved name changes in
Mpumalanga are Belfast to eMakhazeni, Waterval Boven to Emgwenya,
Machadodorp to eNtokozweni, and Nelspruit to Mbombela. The
department spokesperson Premi Appalraju told reported that in
Mbombela Municipality 75 percent of people in 36 wards around
Nelspruit supported the proposed name changes. Ratau-Dlamini added
that businesses would not be forced to change their street addresses
or remove name boards immediately and that street name signs would
remain for the next three years. (News24.com, October, 19, 2009)

Schabir Shaik Controversy Not Going Away

7. (U) The Presidency confirmed on October 19 that it had received
an application for pardon from Schabir Shaik on April 24, 2008.
(Shaik was the former financial advisor to President Zuma who was

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sentenced to a lengthy prison sentence for having a "generally
corrupt" relationship with the South African President. End note.)
The Presidency stated that no decision on the matter had been made
about whether a pardon would be forthcoming. Shaik had recently
been paroled from prison on medical grounds, a highly contested
decision that drew months of condemnation from opposition parties
and human rights organizations. (The Presidency, October 19)

DA Pushes for Review of Corruption Charges Against Zuma

8. (U) The DA on October 21 asked the North Gauteng High Court to
review the decision by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to
drop corruption charges against Zuma. The DA stated that it wished
to pursue the case in the interest of justice and the decision to do
so was not politically motivated. There are about 700 charges of
corruption and racketeering against Zuma, but the NPA dropped them
earlier this year after the office released transcripts showing how
charges against Zuma could have been politically motivated by former
President Thabo Mbeki. (EWN, October 21)

Soccer Coach Resigns Ahead of World Cup

9. (U) Joel Santana, coach of the South African National Soccer
Team (Bafana Bafana), resigned on October 20 as the team has now
lost seven of the their last eight games. The South African
Football Association is expected to announce the new coach of the
national squad soon. (News 24, October 20)

RSA Muslims "Outraged" At Reports Claiming Existence of Terror Cells
in Country

10. (U) eNews reports that South African Muslims are "outraged"
about claims that terror cells are operating in the country. Muslim
and Somali leaders distanced their communities from the reports,
saying they were "irresponsible" and had sparked unnecessary
paranoia. Local US Government operations shut their doors for two
days last month after the National intelligence Agency (NIA)
allegedly intercepted a call made from Cape Town to a Somali group
believed to have links to al-Qa'ida. It is reported that the call to
blow up all US-owned buildings here was made from a shack in Cape
Town's Khayelitsha Township. South Africa's Muslim community has
slammed the allegations, blaming the media for aggravating the
situation. [E.tv's 24-hour news television station that is only
available on subscription]

RSA: Islamic Studies Institute Citess Flaws in Country's Capacity To
Fight Global Terrorism

11. (U) The International Institute of Islamic Studies (IIIS)
reports that South Africa's security services are "poorly" prepared
to deal with global terrorist threats. The report cites a number of
incidents that demonstrate the "inept" nature of the country's
security services, including the Planet Hollywood bombings in 1998,
and the smuggling into South Africa of a Pakistani man wanted by the
US for his involvement in the bombing of the US Embassy in Dar es
Salaam. The most recent threat targeting US interests in South
Africa follows the US killing a senior Al Qaeda operative Saleh Ali
Saleh in Somalia. The IIIS posits that incompetence coupled with the
politicization of RSA's intelligence services are some of the
problems confronting the security cluster The current restructuring
under way in South Africa's intelligence services, with an infusion
of new blood, may be the opportune moment to rectify these "flaws".
The report also proposes that government re-consider the formation
of a dedicated inter-agency counter-terrorism unit. [Independent
Qof a dedicated inter-agency counter-terrorism unit. [Independent
think-tank headed by Prof Hussein Solomon]

------------------
International News
------------------

Motlanthe Visits Sudan

12. (U) Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe is on a working visit to
Sudan that began on October 21 and ends on October 24. Motlanthe is
expected to hold discussions on Sudan's 2010 election, a national
referendum, governance experiences, and other matters related to the
implementation of the Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
The visit takes place within the context of the advancement of the
African agenda and South Africa's commitment to assist the Sudanese
people in the efforts to restore peace and to contribute to the
post-conflict reconstruction of the Sudan. (The Presidency, October
19)

Arms Committee Says it Will Halt Sales to Zimbabwe

13. (U) Following increasing scrutiny about the South Africa
Government's arms sales to Zimbabwe, the National Conventional Arms
Control Committee (NCACC) has decided to halt arms sales to the
neighboring country, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe and NCACC

PRETORIA 00002163 003.2 OF 003


chairperson stated in Parliament. However, arms sales to Venezuela
have been approved and the NCACC is considering similar requests
from Syria. Radebe said the decision to halt arms sales to Zimbabwe
had nothing to do with domestic pressure. (IDASA Briefing, October
16)

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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