B. PRETORIA 4248
Classified By: Ambassador Eric M. Bost. Reasons 1.4(b) and (d).
1. (C) Former South African Government (SAG) minister and
businessman Roelf Meyer told A/PolCouns and PolOff December
20 that he is not “overly concerned” about the election of
Jacob Zuma as ANC President (ref A). Zuma is unlikely to
move South Africa “dramatically to the left,” at least in the
short-term. Meyer worries, however, about the pressures from
Zuma’s populist constituency over the medium to long-term.
(NOTE: Meyer also briefed on his international peace
initiatives (ref B)Q END NOTE.)
2. (C) Meyer was surprised that Zuma won so easily against
the incumbent Mbeki. Up until the night before the vote,
Mbeki allies were certain that Mbeki would win and were
“shell-shocked” when the pro-Zuma results became known.
Meyer believes Zuma’s victory was “entirely Mbeki’s fault.”
If Mbeki had stepped aside, he would have created space for
new leadership, which likely would have led to Cyril
Ramaphosa’s election as ANC President. Instead, Mbeki hung
on stubbornly. Jacob Zuma’s victory was as much an
“anti-Mbeki” vote as a “pro-Zuma” one, Meyer argued.
3. (C) Meyer believes the Zuma administration will be more
open and accessible, noting that even people like himself —
one of the highest profile white ANC members — had
difficulty gaining entry to Mbeki decision-makers. He
believes that new ANC Treasurer General Mathews Phosa will be
particularly influential and a good “entry point” to the Zuma
camp for businessmen and diplomats. On the U.S. relationship
with the ANC, Meyer suggested that the next few weeks would
be an opportune time to reach out to Zuma and his camp.
“They are looking for warmth,” Meyer said.