Cablegate: South Africa Political Newsletter January 25-January 29

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C O R R E C T E D C O P Y TEXT PARA 2, para numbering)


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

ANC Wins Big in By-Elections

2. (SBU) The ANC won all 12 contested seats in municipal
by-elections in Mpumalanga, Free State, Northwest and Eastern Cape
provinces, according to results tabulated by the Independent
Electoral Commission (IEC). "Voter turnout varied between 60.45
percent and 16.24 percent with an average of 30.34 percent," the IEC
said in a statement. The ANC said it was pleased to have retained
every ward with a "decisive majority" in the by-elections
Spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said, "The lowest vote for the ANC was
61 percent, and in all the rest the majority was over 70%, and in
five wards in the 90s." He said a ward in Lekwa, Mpumalanga, was
unopposed. In Eastern Cape, the ANC retained Ndlambe (Port Alfred);
in Free State it won two wards in Letsemeng (Koffiefontein); in
Mpumalanga it retained Mkhondo (Piet Retief), Steve Tshwete
(Middelburg), Thaba Chweu (Sabie), Umjindi (Barberton), and four
wards in Lekwa (Standerton). In Northwest, it retained Ramotshere
Moiloa (Zeerust). The ANC said it was "happy with the people's vote
of confidence in the ANC." (News24, January 29, 2010)

South African Cricket Board Fires Manager to Quicken "Transformation"

3. (SBU) The South African Cricket Board forced the resignation of
the national team's coach as well as the country's board of
selectors reportedly because the team has not achieved racial
transformation quickly enough. The Board, in conjunction with the
government, decided in recent years that at least four black players
should be included on South Africa's national team to promote South
African diversity. However, the team featured no black players
following their latest Test series against England and there are few
black players in the national system ready to compete
internationally. Coach Mickey Arthur resigned and the entire
selection committee for the national team was removed on January 26.
Although the South African Cricket Board did not say lack of
transformation was the reason for the changes, most sports analysts
and commentators, as well as several of the sacked members of the
board of selectors say it was. (Mail and Guardian, January 26-28,

What's in a name? Pretoria vs. Tshwane Issue Resurfaces

4. (SBU) The Afrikaans press reported early in the week that the
government planned to push ahead prior to the start of the World Cup
in June with officially changing the name of Pretoria to Tshwane.
The story broke in the Beeld newspaper on January 27 and was quickly
picked up by all major media outlets. (Note: the proposal to change
the city's name was first mooted in 2005, and has been debated ever
since. The metropolitan area which includes Pretoria is already
officially known as Tshwane. End note.) The Freedom Front Plus
(FFP), most of whose supporters are white Afrikaners, vowed to fight
any change of the name and AfriForum officials said they would
Qany change of the name and AfriForum officials said they would

PRETORIA 00000199 002.4 OF 004

challenge any move to officially rename the city in court. On
January 28, at the last minute, Deputy Arts and Culture Minister
Paul Mashatile canceled a briefing to address the government's
plans, reportedly because he faced pressure from the FFP. FFP
leader (and Deputy Agriculture Minister) Pieter Mulder argued that a
change in Pretoria's name would split South Africans at a time when
the government was hoping for increased patriotism and unity. He
also said, "Because Pretoria's name is internationally known there
will be huge confusion with foreign soccer fans who now suddenly
will be attending games in Tshwane." (Beeld, Sowetan, Business Day,
Sunday Times, January 27-29, 2010)

Congress of the People's Problems Continue

5. (SBU) Internal squabbles in the Congress of the People (COPE)
opposition party (founded in 2009 by breakaway ANC members who
opposed the ruling party's decision to sack president Thabo Mbeki)
are continuing to plague the organization. The COPE youth league on
January 25 passed a vote of no confidence in the party's national
leadership and called for the immediate dissolution of the national
committee. The youth leaders, who are aligned to party leader
Mbhazima Shilowa, proposed that an early election and policy
conference be held at the end of May in place of an elective
conference already set for August. Following the youth league's
announcement, COPE's current national leadership said publicly they
have no plans to step down before the party's elective conference.
Shilowa and other COPE officials say they will only respond to calls
by the youth movement once they have studied a report detailing the
reasons for the youth's move. In a separate development, on January
28, a faction of the youth league who support rival party leader
Mosiuoa Lekota accused Shilowa publicly of hijacking the party and
circulated its list of preferred candidates for the elective
conference. Unsurprisingly, Shilowa and his allies are not on the
list of preferred candidates. (SABCNews, January 26, 2010 and Mail
and Guardian, January 29, 2010)

Calls from the Left to Nationalize the Reserve Bank

6. (SBU) There are growing calls in the tripartite alliance to
explore the nationalization of the South African Reserve Bank. The
National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa said on January 25
the proposal would lead to prosperity for the poor. African
National Congress (ANC) General Secretary (and South African
Communist Party Chairman) Gwede Mantashe has called on the party to
consider a state takeover of the central bank. Mantashe tabled the
proposal at the ANC's recent national executive committee meeting,
but party spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said the proposal had not yet
been discussed by the ANC's top brass. The proposal is expected to
be on the agenda of the next summit of the ruling Triple Alliance
(ANC, SACP, Cosatu) when the review of the mandate of the Reserve
Bank would be discussed further. The Bank currently is privately
owned by 630 shareholders. (Sowetan, January 25, 2010)

ANC Leaders Say They Will Prioritize Service Delivery

7. (SBU) The delivery of government services, particularly to
disadvantaged areas, continues to be a major challenge to the SAG.
According to the ANC's parliamentary caucus, problems with service
delivery remain a huge obstacle that will only be sorted out with
time. Livhuwani Ndou, who serves in the office of the ANC chief
Qtime. Livhuwani Ndou, who serves in the office of the ANC chief
whip, spoke to reporters about the caucus's oversight visit to
Diepsloot and Kya Sands in Johannesburg and said the visits to both
areas formed part of the ruling party's campaign titled, "Taking
Caucus to the People." According to Ndou, the government is serious
about improving delivery and the main objective of the current
campaign, which is spearheaded by the Johannesburg City Council, is
to interact with residents in the two communities and publicize the
government's service delivery programs. Ndou said, "Service
delivery is not an event but a process and these visits are to
ensure that promises contained in our elective manifesto are carried
out." (The Citizen, January 24, 2010)

Democratic Alliance Expels Non-Paying Members

8. (SBU) Senior Democratic Alliance (DA) leaders expelled four DA
councilors in Limpopo for failing to pay the party's monthly
membership fee. The four have since accused the party of firing
them because they questioned the cost of the monthly contribution,
which is roughly 20 dollars. The party's provincial leader, Desiree
van der Walt, confirmed the councilors' expulsion and told reporters
that the DA will not tolerate uncommitted members. (Sowetan,
January 25, 2010)

Change Coming for Medical Parole Law

9. (SBU) The country's laws on medical parole may change following
the controversial parole of President Jacob Zuma's former business
partner Schabir Shaik. A team led by legal expert Judge Siraj Desai
released its first draft report recommending that certain changes be

PRETORIA 00000199 003.4 OF 004

made to parts of Section 79 of the Correctional Services Act. The
report recommends, among other things, that medical parole be
reviewed should an offender's health improve while they are out on
medical parole. Correctional Services Minister Nosiviwe
Mapisa-Nqakula appointed the task team after loopholes were spotted
in the Act following the release of Shaik last year after he had
served only two years of his 15-year prison term. "A number of
questions have been asked about the decisions we have made as the
Department in releasing people on medical parole, and we felt a task
team can clarify some of the questions" said Mapisa-Nqakula. The
recommendations will be sent to Parliament once all the stakeholders
have had an opportunity to air their views. Parliament would have
to any recommendations. (Buanews, January 27, 2010)

State Security Minister's Wife Arrested

10. (SBU) After months of speculation over her involvement in a
high profile drug smuggling case, Sheryl Cwele, the wife of the
State Security Minister, was arrested at her South Coast home early
this morning and was due to appear in court on January 29, the
National Prosecuting Authority confirmed. The arrest by "The Hawks"
crime fighting unit was timed for the day after she returned to her
job as the director of health and community services in the Hibiscus
Coast Municipality, according to press releases. (News24, January
29, 2010)

International News

Australian, South African Foreign Ministers Hold Talks, Announce
Plan to Assist Zimbabwe

11. (SBU) Business Day Online reported on January 27 that the
Australian government, a vocal critic of the Zimbabwe government,
and one of the governments instrumental in getting it kicked out of
the Commonwealth, has softened its approach and will now provide
assistance to Harare. "We have agreed on projects to help Zimbabwe
with taxation laws as well as water and sanitation technical
expertise," Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith told reporters
January 26. He said Zimbabwe needed technical expertise to reform
its tax laws and build the economy. Smith said Australia's
longstanding view about Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe was that
he ought to leave office. But he said that political developments
in the country were encouraging. He announced a further commitment
of up to 6 million Australian dollars to co-operate with South
Africa in supporting the recovery of the Zimbabwean economy and
basic services. [Description of Source: Johannesburg Business Day
Online in English -- Website of privately owned regional newspaper;

Zuma Attends World Economic Forum . . .

12. (SBU) President Zuma is in Davos, Switzerland from January 27 to
31 to attend the 40th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum.
Zuma led the South African delegation and was accompanied by
National Planning Commission Minister Trevor Manuel, Finance
Minister Pravin Gordhan, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim
Patel, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, Water and
Environmental Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica and Tourism Minister
Marthinus van Schalkwyk. There was a strong focus throughout the
early sessions of the Forum on the promotion of the 2010 FIFA World
Cup. (The Presidency, January 25)

. . . Then Off to Ethiopia

13. (SBU) Zuma is scheduled to attend the 14th Ordinary Session of
Q13. (SBU) Zuma is scheduled to attend the 14th Ordinary Session of
the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union
in Ethiopia following the World Economic Forum. Minister of
International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabae is
already in Addis Abba for the ministerial sessions which precede the
summit. (The Presidency, January 25)

Legal Efforts Underway to Force Publication of Report on Zimbabwe

14. (SBU) The South African History Archive and the Southern
African Center for the Survivors of Torture will ask the Pretoria
High Court to force the South African Government to release a
potentially explosive report on post-election violence in Zimbabwe
following that country's 2008 elections. In May 2008, former
President Thabo Mbeki commissioned retired South African generals to
visit Zimbabwe and report back on the violence which erupted after
the March 2008 polls. The generals, including retired Lieutenant
General Gilbert Romano, retired Brigadier-General Ray Moerane and
retired Lieutenant General Lambert Moloi, entered Zimbabwe in May
2008 and returned for a second mission in June 2008. The exercise
had at the time cost taxpayers roughly US$75,000, yet no report has

PRETORIA 00000199 004.4 OF 004

been forthcoming. Although the government has denied the existence
of any report, both the South African History Archive and the
Southern African Center for the Survivors of Torture believe it does
exist. The government has yet to indicate whether it will oppose
the application. (IOL, January 25)


© Scoop Media

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