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Australia wanted Mugabe out

Although Australia’s longstanding view was that President Robert Mugabe ought to leave office, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said political developments in the country were encouraging and his government had committed A$6 million to cooperate with South Africa in supporting Zimbabwe’s recovery.

Smith said Zimbabwe needed technical expertise to reform its tax laws and build the economy.

“We have agreed on projects to help Zimbabwe with taxation laws as well as water and sanitation technical expertise,” he was quoted by the South African newspaper Business Day as saying.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 10PRETORIA199, SOUTH AFRICA POLITICAL NEWSLETTER JANUARY 25-JANUARY 29

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

10PRETORIA199

2010-01-29 16:18

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Pretoria

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RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 7528

RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN 1593

RUEHJO/AMCONSUL JOHANNESBURG 9883

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 PRETORIA 000199

 

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

 

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM ASEC SF

SUBJECT: SOUTH AFRICA POLITICAL NEWSLETTER JANUARY 25-JANUARY 29

 

REF: Pretoria 0080

 

PRETORIA 00000199 001.4 OF 004

 

 

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.

 

————-

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,

2010)

 

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;

URL:

http://www.bday.co.za/]

 

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)

 

GIPS

 

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