Cablegate: South Africa Political Newsletter January 19-January 22

DE RUEHSA #0149/01 0250650
R 250650Z JAN 10



E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: Pretoria 0080

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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

Advocate Gives Rationale for Pursuing Reparations on Behalf of
Apartheid Victims

2. (SBU) Radio 702 announcer Redi Direko on January 19 interviewed
a former commissioner in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
(TRC), Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza, who along with Khulumani Support
Group, brought the apartheid lawsuits against some multinational
companies in a U.S. court. Ntsebeza dismissed the argument that the
claims were "dealt with" through the TRC. He added that in the 2003
post-amnesty applications handed to the South African president
there were indications of "complicity by the corporations in the
perpetration of those violations of human rights." He rejected the
argument by Professor Kader Asmal that the reparations case should
not be heard in New York as "this is a domestic issue." Ntsebeza
said the companies were not being sued for merely having done
business in South Africa, but because "they aided and abetted" in
the violation of human rights and perpetration of those kind of
crimes. [Johannesburg Radio 702 in English - privately-owned
commercial radio station]

Director of Public Prosecutions Tightens Policy on Media

3. (SBU) New National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Menzi
Simelane has forbidden prosecutors from speaking to the media
without prior authorization, according to Simelane's spokesperson
Bulelwa Makeke. The South African Press Agency reported on January
21 that the new directive was effective "immediately as an amendment
to our current media policy." Makeke explained that the National
Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has had "many issues" as a result of
prosecutors talking to the press. She said, "We are not saying they
cannot talk," but that "there are always things you can and cannot
say." Opposition Democratic Alliance justice spokeswoman Dene Smuts
said it was hard to imagine "a more inappropriate choice for NDPP
than Mr. Simelane," and that it was difficult to think of a "more
unfortunate public relations approach than that he has now taken,
given the widespread view that he tried to turn the NPA into an
instrument of government while he was Director General, and that he
will continue to do so as NDPP." [Johannesburg SAPA in English -
cooperative, nonprofit national news agency; URL:]

Democratic Alliance Slams Ruling Party Financial Interest in New
Power Stations

4. (SBU) African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General Gwede
Mantashe said "political parties had to take the initiative to raise
money for themselves," dismissing attacks on the ANC for holding
shares in a company benefitting from Eskom contracts to build two
power stations. The ANC admitted that its investment arm,
Chancellor House, still held a 25 percent stake in Hitachi South
Africa - the company building the new power stations. Business
Report said on January 20 that a statement from the Democratic
Alliance said the ANC would benefit from a deal worth millions of
QAlliance said the ANC would benefit from a deal worth millions of
dollars. "With the ANC's stake in Hitachi, it is only reasonable to
believe that steep electricity price increases by Eskom will benefit
the ANC's party coffers," party MP Sej Motau said. [Online news
service of the South African Broadcasting Corporation; nominally
independent but partially funded by government;; Website of business and financial
publication, privately owned by Independent Newspaper Company; URL:]

Growing Concern Over Potential South African Ambassador to Uganda

5. (SBU) Gay rights activists and opposition parties across the
country have urged President Jacob Zuma not to appoint columnist Jon
Qwelane as South Africa's ambassador to Uganda because of his
outspoken published remarks against homosexuals. Uganda currently
is under international pressure to withdraw a bill that would impose
the death penalty for homosexual acts. Qwelane is a veteran
journalist and was a vocal supporter of Zuma when the ANC leader
battled fraud and corruption charges. (IOL, January 19)

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Ministry of Defense Receives Recommendations on Military Veterans

6. (SBU) Minister of Defense and Veterans Affairs Lindiwe Sisulu
received a report on the plight of, and the state's obligations
toward, military veterans on January 19. The report follows the
reconfiguration of the Ministry of Defense to include military
veterans affairs. Sisulu appointed a task team to advise her and
the Cabinet on how the new administration can assist or empower the
military constituency. The ministerial task team undertook an
analysis of various post-conflict countries which successfully
integrated former opposing military factions into the mainstream of
society. According to the task team, the final report consists of
policy recommendations with regard to benefits such as empowerment,
education and training, pension benefits, housing, and health
support. The report also supports the decision to establish a
separate budget vote and an accounting officer for Military Veterans
Affairs. (Buanews, January 19, 2010)

ANC Lekgotla maps the way forward for 2010

7. (SBU) The ANC is preparing for a busy year ahead, according to
comments from party leaders following its first intra-party retreat
(or "lekgotla") of the year. Most importantly, the party wants to
deal with socio-economic challenges facing the country as nearly a
million jobs were lost as a result of economic recession. Further,
tensions within the alliance are making tackling the tasks ahead
more difficult. ANC Head of Policy Jeff Radebe says the party hopes
branches will be "a sharp point in the spear" when dealing with
service delivery. According to Mantashe, there is a need to examine
the party's relationship with municipal managers and councilors.
Mantashe told reporters the party will examine whether municipal
managers and councilors should be deployed by the ANC or should be
appointed for a permanent length of time. Following the lekgotla,
the ANC distanced itself from a report written by Tokyo Sexwale on
what transpired when South African Communist Party delegates booed
ANC Youth League President Julius Malema in Polokwane last month.
Sexwale's report, which reportedly was delivered to party leaders at
the lekgotla, is said to have blamed Mantashe for the embarrassing
incident. The ANC through Mantashe, however, denied that Sexwale's
report was discussed or that there was ongoing tension. (SABCNews,
January 18,2010)

Cabinet Lekgotla to Map Government's Program of Action

8. (SBU) A three-day Cabinet lekgotla followed the party's
dialogue, bringing together all ministers, deputies ministers,
premiers, and top government officials to evaluate and consolidate
government's program of action for the year. According to
government spokesperson Themba Maseko, the lekgotla focused on ways
to improve government's performance. Maseko told reporters that
Cabinet would look at ways of strengthening local governments
following service delivery protests last year. The outcomes of the
meeting, which Zuma chaired, are expected to form the bases of the
State of the Nation Address and the state budget speech to be
delivered next month. (Buanews, January 20, 2010)

Independent Democrats Uncover New Parliamentary Travel Scandal

9. (SBU) Independent Democrat (ID) party leader Patricia de Lille is
taking legal action against parliamentary speaker Max Sisulu in a
bid to force him to reveal the names of the members of Parliament
who pocket thousands of dollars per month in petrol reimbursement
Qwho pocket thousands of dollars per month in petrol reimbursement
claims. The court application comes after Sisulu refused to give De
Lille the names of the legislators, saying that releasing the names
would be an invasion of their privacy. Local newspapers reported
three months ago that De Lille blew the whistle on a new
parliamentary travel scandal involving legislators who claim large
amounts of petrol costs. (Sowetan, January 21, 2010)

Prominent Academic Lauds Washington over Easing of Travel

10. (SBU) University of Johannesburg Deputy Vice Chancellor Adam
Habib on January 21 welcomed United States Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton's signing of orders that could end his exclusion
from entry into America. Habib said the decision would make his
work easier. Habib and his family were denied entry into the United
States in 2006 and he subsequently filed a legal case in the United
States to protest the decision. (Business Day, January 22, 2010)

International News

Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Somalis "Trickling" into Zimbabwe En Route
to South Africa

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11. (SBU) A January 21 report in the Zimbabwe Herald Online stated
that a senior immigration officer has gone into hiding after he
allegedly issued 26 Bangladeshis with visas without authority.
Police have launched a manhunt for Alter Upenyu Nhidza who was based
at Kanyemba Border Post. It is reportedly believed that Nhidza is
only one link in a syndicate that has seen Bangladeshis, Pakistanis
and Somalis trickling into the country-mostly through illegal entry
points-en route to South Africa. The 26 Bangladeshis with the fake
visas were deported at the Harare International Airport on 18
January. They arrived separately in two groups from Kenya-18 aboard
a Kenyan Airways flight and 8 on Ethiopian Airlines. A "sizeable
number" of Pakistanis, Somalis, and Bangladeshis had reportedly
entered Zimbabwe with the aid of rogue immigration officials.
Investigations revealed that Nhidza has charged about US$600 per
"visa." [Website of pro-government newspaper published daily except
Sunday; URL:]

South Africa Seeks to Provide Assistance to Haiti

12. (U) Department of International Relations and Cooperation
Deputy Minister Sue van der Merwe announced on January 14 that South
Africa would offer aid to Haiti through the National Disaster
Management Centre (NDMC). South Africa's aid assistance to Haiti is
to consist of three phases. First, the government wants to provide
help in the immediate search and rescue phase. Second, the
government plans to help with the identification of bodies by
sending forensic pathologists. Finally, the government wants to
offer humanitarian aid by working with non-governmental
organizations such as "The Gift of the Givers." (DIRCO Briefing,
January 14)


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