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Zuma said Mugabe confused himself with Zimbabwe

The deputy President of the African National Congress Jacob Zuma, who was preparing to take over the party leadership from South African President Thabo Mbeki, told diplomats that there would be no change of policy towards Zimbabwe under his leadership.

This was despite the fact that he thought that President Robert Mugabe had been in power too long and confused himself with the country.

Zuma, however, said Europe and the United States should tone down their public criticism of Mugabe since there was no chance of settling Zimbabwe until the level of noise was reduced.

He said that the Southern African Development Community should be allowed to resolve the situation.

He also added that he talked to Mugabe who considered any criticism of him to be racist.

Zuma thought that Mugabe felt that he had no choice but to stay in office because he feared being charged with war crimes like former Liberian President Charles Taylor.

The best way to resolve the situation, in Zuma’s opinion, was to give Mugabe a guarantee of safety and dignity.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 07PRETORIA3624, ZUMA REASSURES FOREIGN INVESTORS

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

07PRETORIA3624

2007-10-15 13:00

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Pretoria

VZCZCXRO9599

RR RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSA #3624/01 2881300

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 151300Z OCT 07

FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2273

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 4962

RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN 9274

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PRETORIA 003624

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/14/2017

TAGS: PGOV ECON SF

SUBJECT: ZUMA REASSURES FOREIGN INVESTORS

 

REF: PRETORIA 3448

 

PRETORIA 00003624 001.2 OF 002

 

 

Classified By: Charge d’Affaires Donald Teitelbaum. Reasons 1.4(b) and

(d).

 

1. (C) SUMMARY. ANC Deputy President Jacob Zuma on 26

September met with international investors at Citigroup’s

request, signaling that markets are preparing for the

possibility of a Zuma presidency. Citigroup debriefed the

Mission’s Commercial Attache the following day, saying Zuma

reassured the audience there would be no drastic policy

shifts under his leadership, except a harsher approach

towards crime. Zuma’s comments appear to have been well

received, but he is known for telling people what they want

to hear. END SUMMARY.

 

————————-

INVESTOR INTEREST IN ZUMA

————————-

 

2. (C) On 26 September, ANC Deputy President Jacob Zuma met

with 20 international fund managers who represent some USD 6

billion in potential investment into Africa. The meeting was

at the behest of Gus Felix, managing director of Citigroup in

South Africa, indicating that international financial

institutions are taking the possibility of Zuma becoming

President of South Africa seriously. Despite Felix’s request

for an off-the-record meeting, Zuma’s camp took full

advantage of the situation by publicly leaking details,

presumably to suggest that his candidacy was being endorsed

by foreign investors. Felix debriefed Mission Commercial

Attache the following day, telling him that Zuma tried to

paint a picture of stability by saying that South Africa

under his leadership would not be that much different from

now, except he would be harsher on crime (not surprisingly,

one of investors’ biggest concerns). IMF official Robert

Burgess told PolOff on 4 October that Zuma’s comments were

well-received, but added that Zuma is not stupid and that

people often hear what they want to believe.

 

———–

COSATU WHO?

———–

 

2. (C) According to Felix, Zuma told investors his vision of

future economic growth is to encourage foreign trade and

investment. He also would relax the country’s visa

requirements to encourage skilled immigration into South

Africa. As expected, he told investors he would not raise

taxes (even though he would budget more money for housing).

Perhaps most surprisingly, Zuma was critical in his comments

about the left-leaning tripartite alliance member Congress of

South African Trade Unions (COSATU) — one of his biggest

supporters — saying the umbrella organization represented

only a part of the ANC and a fragment of overall society. In

a likely effort to diffuse investor concerns that Zuma would

be beholden to the far left, he told the audience he owes

nothing to COSATU, or anyone else for that matter.

 

—————-

TOUGHER ON CRIME

—————-

 

3. (C) Zuma was tough on law and order issues. He attacked

South Africa’s current criminal justice system, saying it is

not working. He complained that criminals have too many

rights, police (along with teachers and nurses) were the most

ill-paid government officials in the country, and the

“liberal approach” to crime was not working. Zuma argued

that this breakdown in law and order is resulting in

increased vigilantism and decreased confidence in the public

sector.

 

—————————-

NO CHANGE IN ZIMBABWE POLICY

—————————-

 

4. (C) Zuma told the group that under him, there would be no

change in South Africa’s current policy toward Zimbabwe.

Zuma thinks Mugabe has been in power too long and confuses

himself with the country. However, Europe and the U.S.

should tone down their public criticism since there is no

chance of settling Zimbabwe until the level of noise is

reduced. Instead, SADC should be allowed to resolve the

situation. He also added that he talks to Mugabe, who

considers any criticism of him to be racist. Zuma thinks

that Mugabe feels he has no choice but to stay in office

 

PRETORIA 00003624 002.2 OF 002

 

 

because he fears being charged with war crimes like former

Liberian President Charles Taylor. The best way to resolve

the situation, in Zuma’s opinion, would be to give Mugabe a

guarantee of safety and dignity.

 

————————————

NEXT PRESIDENT DOESN’T MATTER ANYWAY

————————————

 

5. (C) In what has become a common refrain from Zuma, he told

investors that the national president does not make policies,

the ANC does. The president of South Africa then implements

them. He acknowledged that South Africa’s president has a

right to emphasize particular elements of ANC policy, but

seemed to dismiss the importance of the position (thereby

enhancing the ANC presidency in the process) by saying that

the South African president is not the primary decision maker.

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

6. (C) Most South African businessmen are not unduly alarmed

by the prospect of a Zuma presidency because they assume his

policies would fall within the mainstream of the ANC.

However, some foreign investors fear Zuma would reverse

Mbeki’s market-friendly policies based on Zuma’s reputation

as a “populist” and his alliance with the South African

Communist Party and COSATU, which officially backed Zuma for

ANC President during their recent annual conference in

September. Against this backdrop, Zuma’s comments to

investors were clearly intended to assuage their worries.

Whether Zuma actually meant any of it is less clear. Zuma

has been known to say what people want to hear, making it

difficult to get a clear picture of what a Zuma presidency

would actually look like.

Teitelbaum

 

(6 VIEWS)

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