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Zimbabwe’s problems are centred on succession issue-strategist

Former South African government strategist Joel Netshitenzhe said that the Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front had to settle the succession issue before there was real progress in Zimbabwe because every disagreement had much to do with the tension over succession.

He said the solution to the Zimbabwe problems ultimately depended on the country’s leaders.

Fortunately there was a growing sense within the moderate camps in both ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change that a solution must be found.

Netshitenzhe saw the Global Political Agreement as the only way forward but ZANU-PF had to settle the issue of successions because “every disagreement in Zimbabwe right now has as much to do with tension over succession as it does with tension between Mugabe and Tsvangirai”.

“What must happen is ZANU-PF needs to be convinced that its success is tied to the GPA succeeding,” he said. “Without showing progress, ZANU-PF will be in trouble at the polls.”

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 10PRETORIA305, SOUTH AFRICA: AMBASSADOR GIPS MEETS WITH JOEL

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

10PRETORIA305

2010-02-12 14:32

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Pretoria

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ZNY CCCCC ZZH

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FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1227

INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE

RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 7574

RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN 1639

RUEHJO/AMCONSUL JOHANNESBURG 9928

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 PRETORIA 000305

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/03/2020

TAGS: PGOV EAID SCUL KCRM SF

SUBJECT: SOUTH AFRICA: AMBASSADOR GIPS MEETS WITH JOEL

NETSHITENZHE, TOP MBEKI ERA STRATEGIST

 

PRETORIA 00000305 001.2 OF 003

 

 

Classified By: Political Counselor Walter N.S. Pflaumer for reasons 1.4

(b) and (d).

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

1. (C) Ambassador Gips met with former Chief of the

Presidency’s Policy Unit Joel Netshitenzhe on February 1.

Netshitenzhe, one of the key government strategists to emerge

during the past 15 years, remains engaged intellectually on

all of the current issues confronting South Africa. (Note:

His goal now that he is no longer in government is to

establish a research institute, ideally at the University of

Pretoria. End Note.) He still has thoughtful opinions on

the state of South African governance, the importance of

education in meeting the country’s needs, the problems in

neighboring Zimbabwe, and the future of South Africa’s

bilateral relationship with the United States. Although his

influence in the African National Congress (ANC) has declined

following his resignation from government, we believe his

insights into party policy remain of considerable value. End

Summary.

 

——————————————— ———–

Zuma’s Administration a “Hybrid of Previous Governments”

——————————————— ———–

 

2. (C) Ambassador Gips, Deputy Chief of Mission La Lime,

Polcouns, and Poloff (notetaker) met with Joel Netshitenzhe

on February 1. Netshitenzhe, whom many consider to have been

former President Thabo Mbeki’s top policy adviser, began by

describing his views of South African government during the

past 15 years. If former President Nelson Mandela’s

administration was about uniting the country, then Mbeki’s

presidency was about “work” and “dealing with issues,”

according to Netshitenzhe. He said, “(President Jacob)

Zuma’s presidency is about both elements of unity and work.”

(Note: Netshitenzhe’s views on the character of the

administrations are telling because he was a senior official

in all of them. End Note.) Netshitenzhe pointed to the

National Planning Commission as a new way of making sure

government works. He said, “The commission means the South

African Government will have a long term vision for this

first time.” Netshitenzhe hopes that the long term vision

will unite the country and create space for public-private

partnerships. He judged that Minister in the Presidency for

National Planning Trevor Manuel’s role in government will not

be easy as it “will take a long time before there is an

agreed upon national vision.” However, he said it is

important the government identifies objectives that can be

met, finds ways of meeting those objectives, and creates new

objectives for the future.

 

3. (C) Netshitenzhe said the best way of ensuring the

government makes progress is for Minister in the Presidency

for Monitoring and Evaluation Collins Chabane to be empowered

to push the Cabinet for concrete results. He said,

“Chabane’s office should be capable of monitoring government

performance with evidence.” Netshitenzhe admitted, “South

Africa is at a critical juncture with regards to planning and

policymaking.” Ambassador Gips agreed with Netshitenzhe

about the importance of planning, and mentioned he had met

with Chabane recently for a conversation about how the USG

could help the Minister. Netshitenzhe said, “That is great

to hear. Such exchanges will be very useful.” He added that

Qthe South African Government had recently met with planning

commissions in Malaysia, South Korea, Chile, Tunisia, Brazil,

and India. He said, “Malaysia and South Korea had the most

to offer in terms of strategies for planning.” He noted that

Chile and Tunisia’s planning strategies were good models for

reducing poverty. He also confided that South Africa found

India’s planning strategy as “too rigid” and Brazil’s as

“having too many divisions.”

 

——————————————— —————-

“Education” Key to Meeting South Africa’s Greatest Challenges

——————————————— —————-

 

4. (C) Ambassador Gips asked Netshitenzhe what he would do

if he was still in government to confront challenges such as

poverty, inequality, skill shortages, and poor service

delivery. Netshitenzhe said everything in South Africa comes

back to “education, education, education” for the future.

His experience in government taught him that even though high

 

PRETORIA 00000305 002.2 OF 003

 

 

economic growth can lead to the alleviation of some poverty

and some minimum reductions in inequality, “growth on its own

is inadequate.” He added, “For instance, the biggest paradox

was that even as inequality shrank between racial categories,

it grew rapidly within racial categories.” Netshitenzhe said

because growth was not enough, the government under Mbeki

pushed for — and supported — growth for microeconomic

enterprises and skills development. He lauded the launch of

Mbeki’s Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative in South

Africa as an example of how the administration pushed for

skills. He said he is worried that South Africa is not

confronting inequality fast enough. He noted, “Poverty does

not lead to crime, but inequality definitely leads to crime.

We have to address this.”

 

———————————

Zimbabwe “Depends on Its Leaders”

———————————

 

5. (C) Netshitenzhe said Zimbabwe remains a complex issue.

He said, “Ultimately, everything depends on Zimbabwe’s

leaders.” Netshitenzhe said there is a growing sense within

moderate camps of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National

Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and Morgan Tsvangirai’s

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) that a solution must

be found. Netshitenzhe said South Africa and all sides in

Zimbabwe are asking whether there has been sufficient work on

the Global Political Agreement (GPA), which he sees as “the

only way forward.” In his view, ZANU-PF must settle

succession before there is real progress because “every

disagreement in Zimbabwe right now has as much to do with

tension over succession as it does with tension between

Mugabe and Tsvangirai.” He said, “What must happen is

ZANU-PF needs to be convinced that its success is tied to the

GPA succeeding.” However, he sees this as a challenge and

claimed the “GPA would be in ZANU-PF’s self-interest if it

cared.” Netshitenzhe continued, “ZANU-PF would be wise to

put succession to the side so it can promote a message of

delivery on the GPA to the public ahead of the next

elections.” He added, “Without showing progress, ZANU-PF

will be in trouble at the polls.”

 

——————————————— ———-

Netshitenzhe Offers Views on the Bilateral Relationship

——————————————— ———-

 

6. (C) Netshitenzhe said the character of administrations in

the United States provides complexity to the bilateral

relationship. He said, “There was an ideal relationship

between President Mandela and President Clinton and Deputy

President Mbeki and Vice President Gore.” However, he

stressed that some of the bilateral mechanisms in place

during the 1990s did not always lead to follow-ups, which was

a “failing for both sides.” During the Bush administration,

Netshitenzhe said South Africa disagreed with such U. S.

policies as the invasion of Iraq and sanctions on Zimbabwe.

However, he lauded what the previous administration did to

combat HIV/AIDS. He pointed to great potential for the

relationship now that both countries have new leaders. He

stressed how the leadership of both Zuma and President Obama

could lead to a partnership between the countries to fight

poverty, tackle the global economic crisis, and cooperate on

climate change. He said, “The Binational Commission is

Qclimate change. He said, “The Binational Commission is

wonderful, but probably not as strong as the relationship

between (Secretary) Clinton and (Minister of International

Relations and Cooperation) Nkoana-Mashabane.” Ambassador

Gips asked for Netshitenzhe’s views on the way forward for

AFRICOM. Netshitenzhe said, “Making sure U. S. military

interests match South African interests should be the top

priority.” He added, “You can keep people happy by making

sure they do not see the U. S. as colonizers.”

 

7. (C) Ambassador Gips asked Netshitenzhe what he thought

would be the best way of dealing with the ANC moving forward.

Netshitenzhe said, “It is not easy for me to say.” (Note:

Netshitenzhe’s answer probably demonstrates how marginalized

he has become now that Mbeki is no longer leading the party.

He retains, however, his place on the ANC National Executive

Committee. End Note.) He related that the Chinese are easy

for the ANC to deal with because everything is at the

party-to-party level. He noted, “The Chinese support the

party more than anything else. Maybe it would be good for

the ANC to have party-to-party ties with U. S. political

parties.”

 

 

PRETORIA 00000305 003.2 OF 003

 

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

8. (C) Netshitenzhe remains engaged intellectually on all of

the current issues confronting South Africa, and his opinions

matter to many within the senior leadership of the ANC, who

respect his role in government over the past 16 years. Many

observers believe his star went into decline when he was

mentioned as a potential candidate for the ANC presidency in

2007. He, nonetheless, still has valuable insights into what

current Ministers such as Trevor Manuel, Collins Chabane, and

Maite Nkoana-Mashabane are doing and thinking, and into the

debates within the party on future policy. End Comment.

GIPS

(20 VIEWS)

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