Ferial Haffajee

A shot at ANC deputy president for unhappy Dlamini-Zuma?

2015-02-25 09:01

Ferial Haffajee

For months now rumours have circulated about why the African Union Commission chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, may not seek a second term.

Now the South African spy cables, released by Al Jazeera this week, may help explain why. The cables allege that Dlamini-Zuma faced an assassination threat in October 2012 soon after she took office at the Commission’s high-rise headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

An examination of the cables suggest the threat may have come from Sudan. After learning of it, a crack team comprised of SA Secret Service boss Simon Ntombela and a General Dladla of the SA Police Service jetted out of South Africa to Ethiopia where they held high-level meetings with local security to discuss the threats.

They recommended the VIP protection team’s capacity be increased from one to several officers. Dlamini-Zuma’s detail, in turn, complained of small meal allowances and high hotel costs, meaning they had to leave their charge unattended at times.

The plot, which informants said would be carried out on 24 October, of course, did not happen.

In addition to the plot threat the cables also lay bare how difficult Dlamini-Zuma’s ascension to the top seat was.
Her predecessor Jean Ping, who had run against her, was obstructive and would not allow security assessments of the official chairperson’s house before he vacated, for example.

The cables include detail of South Africa’s campaign of cheque book diplomacy to get Dlamini-Zuma the job.  Trade concessions and links were offered to countries for their vote at the AU, according to the cables.

Dlamini-Zuma also had to win over a diplomatic community in the Ethiopian capital that had lobbied against her, the cables reveal.

France supported Ping, but the surprising revelations in the report is that the powerful United States embassy in Addis Ababa allegedly also lobbied against Dlamini-Zuma.

“In this regard,” read the SA cables, “the [SA ambassador in Ethiopia] recalled that the US, through its embassy in Addis Ababa, had also played a significant behind the scenes role in campaigning against Dr Dlamini-Zuma.” In addition, the spy cables reveal that relations between Ethiopia and South Africa were “damaged” and needed to be rebuilt when Dlamini-Zuma took the chair.

Could the cables spur Dlamini-Zuma on in her decision to come home in 2017 – just in time to take a stab at becoming the ANC’s deputy president? If so, it would usher a second Zuma into the presidency in 2019 as the first one leaves.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    au  |  anc  |  al jazeera  |  spy cables

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