Spy Cables: How Dlamini-Zuma was almost assassinated

2015-02-24 20:00

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Cape Town - Leaked intelligence documents obtained by Al Jazeera reveal there was a plot to assassinate African Union chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in Ethiopia days after she assumed the position in October 2012.

The documents also reveal that Sudan was suspected of being behind the plot, and that South African and Ethiopian intelligence agencies were unprepared, with South African officials admitting they did not have time to “neutralise” the threat and apprehend those involved.

The documents form part of a cache of hundreds of secret intelligence documents from spy agencies around the world which were leaked to Al Jazeera.

Dlamini-Zuma had previously been South Africa’s home affairs minister, and had served as foreign and health ministers before that. She is divorced from President Jacob Zuma and they have four children together.

“The Acting Director further pointed out that the issue at hand was about receiving briefing and updates on how they are proceeding about the issue of an unnamed state alleged to be seeking to course harm to the Chairperson on October 2012," reads the cable.

» Imminent threat

According to the cables, South African intelligence officials were alerted to an imminent threat to Dlamini-Zuma’s life on October 22 2012.

The information on an attack within the next two days was relayed to the embassy in Addis Ababa, where the AU headquarters are situated, and Dlaminci-Zuma was told there may be changes to her protection arrangements.

The cables instructed “Special Forces to explore ways of strengthening security capacity to cover travels of the Chairperson when she visits hot spot on the continent”. Four extra bodyguards were assigned to her hotel.

There were also concerns amongst South African security officials that the increased security was handled in a diplomatic manner and would not be seen as a sign of no confidence in Ethiopian security.

The cables also reveal that Sudan was suspected of being behind the plot, but there were no further details and the director of Ethiopia’s national intelligence said he doubted Sudan would carry out such operations.

There was also confusion over whether AU or Ethiopian security was responsible for Dlamini-Zuma’s security, while AU bodyguards slept in corridors for four days with no food or water provided as the AU did not make such arrangements.

- For more on the spy cables, click here, or see Al Jazeera.

See the documents: South Africa and Ethiopia's intelligence meeting on Dlamini-Zuma

- Document 1

- Document 2

- Document 3

- Document 4

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