Ebrahim Rasool explains why he was fired

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Johannesburg - A United States diplomatic cable claims that former Western Cape premier Ebrahim Rasool blamed his sacking on ANC leaders tiring of “preferences given to the large coloured and Muslim population of the Western Cape”.

The December 7, 2009 “confidential” cable – part of 250 000 cables leaked to WikiLeaks but which has yet to be published – has been obtained by Media24 Investigations.

It records details of a meeting between US Ambassador Donald Gips, Rasool (who is now South Africa’s ambassador to Washington) and Rasool’s special advisor Tahir Saleh.

The document says that he had been ready to step aside before the appointment of his successor Lynne Browne. “Rasool said that his ‘redeployment’ was due to the fact that the ‘national majority is a regional minority,’ suggesting that the ANC’s national black majority grew tired of preferences given to the large coloured and Muslim population in the Western Cape.

ANC leaders 'suspicious'

“He commented that some ANC leaders were suspicious of the growing Muslim investment in [the] Western Cape. Concluding, he said [the] Western Cape’s lack of a black middle class resulted in perceived inequalities as white and coloured businesses outpaced their black-owned competitors for government contracts,” the cable says.

“He stressed that those who gravitated to the ANC for leadership opportunities were impatient,” the cable said, adding Rasool had said he had “erred in trying to contain all of his political enemies in the provincial cabinet”.

In the cable he is also quoted extensively about his ambitions to play an international leadership role in the moderate Muslim community.

Repeated attempts to get comment from Rasool’s office in Washington DC last week were fruitless.

Saleh declined to comment, saying he could not recall the 2009 meeting, and referred questions to the United States embassy.

ANC spokesperson Brian Sokutu said the ruling party would seek clarity from Rasool about the comments attributed to him in the cable before making any statement.

“We don’t want to be drawn into that discussion before we get clarity from the ambassador. We need him to clarify whether he made those comments or not,” said Sokutu.

 At the time of the comments attributed to Rasool he was looking for a job after being “recalled” by the ANC as an advisor to then president Kgalema Motlanthe.

Bribed journalists

In the cable he said he was partly sacked as a premier because of allegations that he had bribed journalists to report favourably about him.

“Rasool’s tenure was tarnished by allegations of corruption, including alleged payoffs to journalists to write stories harmful to his rivals within the ANC,” the cable notes.

Former Argus journalist Ashley Smith publicly confessed last year that he had received money in return for writing pro-Rasool stories during the power struggle between the former premier and then ANC Western Cape secretary Mcebisi Skwatsha and James Ngculu.

US embassy spokesperson Elizabeth Kennedy Trudeau, said they could not confirm “the veracity of any stolen documents”.

“We can’t guarantee their authenticity but we can say in general these cables reflect private conversations and were never meant to be public. They do not reflect formal policy. These cables reflect on one person’s interpretation of a situation,” said Trudeau.
 
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