“This is the second in a series of cables on the strengths and weaknesses of the emerging candidates for the ANC and national presidencies in South Africa (Ref A). This messages presents the view of Ebrahim Ebrahim, ANC National Executive Council member and former Political Advisor to Jacob Zuma. Ebrahim, who was imprisoned on Robben Island with Zuma, said the current speculation about the ANC presidential succession is ‘mere guesswork.’ The real canvassing for the ANC presidency will kick off in May or June 2007. Ebrahim claimed that Zuma is a ‘genuine’ person who is not corrupt, but was ‘misled’ and demonstrated poor judgment. Zuma is popular with poor South Africans around the country, not just in KwaZulu-Natal, a fact that President Mbeki does not fully appreciate. Ebrahim said he does not think the ANC membership wants a ‘BEE tycoon’ such as Ramaphosa or Sexwale, as the next president; Ebrahim would support ANC Secretary-General Motlanthe whom he believes could unite the party factions.” the US Embassy Pretoria (South Africa) informed Washington.
The Embassy wrote; “PolOff met with Ebrahim Ebrahim (strictly protect) October 25 to discuss Jacob Zuma’s political future and Ebrahim’s conflict resolution work in Sri Lanka and Bolivia (septels). Ebrahim, an African National Congress (ANC) National Executive Council (NEC) Member and former Political Advisor to Jacob Zuma when Zuma was SAG Deputy President (see bio-note at paras 10-11), told PolOff that the “real canvassing” for the ANC presidential election will only begin in May or June 2007, in advance of the ANC National Congress in December. The current speculation in the press is ‘mere guesswork.’ No one — not even President Mbeki — knows how the race will develop at this stage.”
Under the subtitle “Bio-Note” the Embassy wrote; “Born in 1937, Ebrahim Ebrahim joined the ANC in 1952 and the armed wing of the party, Umkhonto we Sizwe, in 1960. He was arrested in 1961 and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment on Robben Island. After his release from Robben Island in 1979, Ebrahim fled into exile. In 1986, the South African security forces kidnapped Ebrahim in Swaziland and charged him with high treason. He was released five years later when an appeal court ruled that his abduction from a foreign country was illegal. Ebrahim was elected to the ANC National Executive Committee in 1991, and served as Member of Parliament from 1994 to 2002, including as Chairperson of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee. Ebrahim was SAG Deputy President Jacob Zuma’s Political Advisor from 2002 to 2005, and was deeply involved in Zuma’s work as mediator in Burundi (Ref C). Together with former National Party minister and negotiator Roelf Meyer, Ebrahim is involved in conflict resolution work in Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bolivia. Ebrahim has a child, Cassia, from a previous engagement to a U.S. citizen, Julie Wells. Per para 8, Cassia is a student at Stanford University. Ebrahim is currently married to Shannon Field, a South African who grew up in Canada. Field works in the SAG Presidency as a conflict resolution advisor, and she and Ebrahim are expecting a child in November.”
Read the cable here for further details.