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Cablegate: South Africa Political Newsletter February 22-February 26

DE RUEHSA #0395/01 0571315
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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

International Relations Minister Mashabane Visits China

2. (SBU) According to a statement released by the Department of
International Relations and Cooperation, Minister Maite
Nkoana-Mashabane undertook an official visit to the People's
Republic of China (PRC) from February 25-26 to hold discussions with
Yang Jiechi. The visit takes place within the context of the
Strategic Partnership Dialogue between South Africa and China, which
was launched on 7 January 2008 as a vehicle to consolidate the
bilateral relations between the two countries. The main objectives
of the visit are to examine ways to advance the African agenda, to
deepen cooperation in the multilateral arena, to coordinate and
strengthen business linkages, and to exchange Chinese views on the
Asian regional integration. Nkoana-Mashabane will also pay a
courtesy call on Vice President Xi Jinping. [Description of source:
Department of International Relations and Cooperation in English --
Official government website; URL:]

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Zuma Condemns Niger Coup

3. (SBU) President Jacob Zuma joined the African Union, Economic
Community of West African countries, and other African leaders in
condemning the coup d'tat by Niger's military on February 18.
(DIRCO Briefing, February 19)

Deputy International Relations Minister in Congo

4. (SBU) Department of International Relations and Cooperation
Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim attended the SADC Council of
Ministers in Congo from February 24-26. South Africa participated
in the Southern African Development Community Council (SADC) of
Ministers meeting within the context of strengthening SADC. The
SADC Council of Ministers session considered the following: regional
food security, the establishment of a center for coordination of
agricultural research and development, the establishment of the
Zambezi Watercourse Commission, and a report from the Finance
Committee. (DIRCO Briefing, February 22)

Pro-Democracy Groups Push for Democracy in Swaziland

5. (SBU) Pro-democracy groups from several southern African nations
gathered in South Africa on February 21 to launch a campaign for
democracy in Swaziland, whose government many consider to be one the
few remaining absolute monarchies in the world. Activists from
trade and student unions, civic groups and Swazi opposition parties
launched the Swaziland Democracy Campaign. The campaign is designed
to seek the removal of restrictions on political parties, the news
media and political gatherings. The group also is calling for free,
multi-party elections. International Relations Secretary for the
Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Bongani Masuku said
these groups are calling for targeted sanctions against Swazi
leaders. (, February 22)

South Africa Seizes North Korean Arms

6. (SBU) South Africa Government officials claim Pretoria has
seized an illicit shipment of North Korean arms bound for the
Republic of Congo in violation of United Nations sanctions. The
QRepublic of Congo in violation of United Nations sanctions. The
government reported the seizure to the UN Security Council. The
South African report on Monday February 22 was made to the UN panel
monitoring sanctions imposed on North Korea last year following the
government's underground nuclear test. The report indicates that
spare parts for tanks were seized in November 2009 after a tip-off
from a French shipping company that the North Korean vessel was
carrying suspicious cargo. Experts from the Council's sanctions
panel have been tasked with probing the case. (EWN, February 24)

Domestic News

Official Announces Details of World Cup Air Defense Plan

7. (SBU) Pretoria News reports that fighter jets and attack
helicopters will be on standby during World Cup games in South
Africa, ready to be scrambled at a moment's notice, to react to any
potential terrorist attacks launched from the air, according to

PRETORIA 00000395 002.2 OF 003

Brigadier-General Leslie Lombard, officer commanding Air Force
Command Post. The World Cup air defense plan is based on the CIA's
Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP), which was compiled after
the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. According to Lombard, a
strict 50 nautical miles (92km) controlled zone in cities where
games are being played will be enforced, with a total exclusion zone
of 5 nautical miles (9km) around stadiums. The management of the
restricted airspace will be handled by the air force's command post,
as a component of the national joint operation command.
[Description of source: Pretoria News Online in English -- Website
of local daily, privately owned by Independent Newspaper Company;

Labor Federation COSATU Says Gordhan's Budget "Last Straw" on
Alliance Ties

8. (SBU) SABC TV 3 reports that relations in the tripartite
alliance have hit a "new low," with labor federation COSATU saying
that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's budget speech was the "last
straw." COSATU said the budget, which it termed unilateral, had
failed workers, prompting the federation to organize a series of
strikes as part of a rolling mass action campaign beginning in
October. According to the report, observers say COSATU's reaction
revealed some kind of regret for backing President Zuma.
[Description of source: SABC 3 Television in English --
English-language television channel, nominally independent but
partially funded by government]

Government and Traditional Leaders to Intensify Partnership for
Service Delivery

9. (SBU) Zuma has called for a stronger partnership between
government and traditional leaders, saying this would ensure
sustainable development in rural areas. Speaking at the opening of
the National House of Traditional Leaders, the South African leader
told reporters that traditional leaders have a critical role to play
with regard to rural development. He said Godhan, in his budget
speech, announced that several million dollars would be used this
year for the Comprehensive Rural Development Strategy. He also
announced a new grant to support on-site water and sanitation
infrastructure as part of the rural housing program. Zuma urged
traditional leaders to be part of government's year of action
approach to ensure that service delivery challenges are addressed
especially in rural areas. (Note: It has become tradition that
after the President delivers the State of the Nation Address, and
the Minister of Finance delivers the Budget Speech, the President
officially opens the National House of Traditional Leaders. End
note.) (Buanews, February 23, 2010)

Race Tension Hits the Democratic Alliance

10. (SBU) Coloured members of the Democratic Alliance (DA) have
accused the party's leaders of undermining black and Coloured
members. Two DA councilors in Cape Town, Frank Martin and Grant
Twigg, have raised concerns about the role of black delegates at the
party's forthcoming provincial conference. According to Martin and
Twigg, the party "is more lenient towards white transgressors
compared to black ones." They cited alleged the party's decision to
place Community Safety Minister in the Executive Committee (MEC)
Lennit Max on special leave for the last 10 days after allegations
surfaced that he had an extramarital affair with a police clerk in
2007. The councilors contrasted this with the leniency shown by
Western Cape Premier and party leader Helen Zille in disciplining
QWestern Cape Premier and party leader Helen Zille in disciplining
Western Cape party head Theuns Botha, where no action was taken
against Botha when he "embarrassed" the party in 2007. Martin and
Twigg allege that this lack of action consistency is motivated by
race issues within the party. Zille insists that she has treated
all candidates equally and based on the facts before her and said it
is unfortunate that the race card is played on an issue which has
nothing to do with race. ( February 22, 2010)

Gauteng to Empower Women

11. (SBU) To reduce reliance on government grants, over 10,000
young women in Gauteng townships will receive training in various
skills development programs. MEC for Health and Social Development
Qedani Mahlangu reported that together with the Gauteng City Region
Academy his department would train young women as auxiliary social
workers, shop fitters, air conditioning technicians and lift
technicians, giving them the opportunity to earn a decent living.
The program will start in Heidelberg, and will later target
economically depressed areas of Ekurhuleni, Johannesburg and
Pretoria. (Buanews, February 24, 2010)

Service Delivery Protests Rock Gauteng

12. (SBU) Tensions flared in Sharpeville, South Gauteng after
residents accused local political leaders of lining their pockets
with millions of dollars meant to upgrade the local stadium and

PRETORIA 00000395 003.2 OF 003

other infrastructure projects in area. The residents vowed to
protest until Zuma addresses issues of fraud in Gauteng province.
Meanwhile, Hartbeespoort residents in Gauteng met February 24 to
discuss poor service delivery in their area, following reports that
the tap water in the area was not safe and should be boiled first.
Community members have threatened to withhold their rates and taxes
until service delivery issues solved in the province. (Eyewitness
News, February 24, 2010)

Prosecuting Chief Refutes Criticism Over His Appointment

13. (SBU) National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Menzi Simelane
has brushed off criticism that he may not be able to execute his
duties without fear or favor. His appointment has been criticized
by opposition parties following the Ginwala Commission which
suggested that Menzi Simelane was "not a fit and proper person" to
hold a legal position in the government. Simelane was speaking at
the University of Cape Town during a roundtable discussion on
whether courts are able to hold public officials to account. He
said he will be able to perform his duties without any problems.
(SABCNEWS, February 24, 2010)


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