Ousted president Thabo Mbeki was involved in the formation of the African National Congress (ANC) breakaway party, the Congress of the People (Cope), according to a secret United States (US) diplomatic note obtained by Media24, Beeld reported on Thursday.
These claims have been denied.
The note is dated December 5 2008, and revolves around a meeting between a diplomat, the US embassy and a Unisa professor, Dirk Kotze, reported Beeld under a headline naming website WikiLeaks as the source.
According to the note, Mbeki — who was asked to resign as president of the country by the African National Congress in September 2008 — was involved in writing Cope’s policy documents.
Kotze reportedly told the US diplomat that Cope spokesperson Smuts Ngonyama, a former spokesperson for Mbeki, had said the policy document was drafted by Mbeki. “Smuts made it very clear that it [the policy document] had come from Mbeki,” said Kotze.
He added: “The document has all the characteristics of many of Mbeki’s ANC letters.”
Kotze and Ngonyama have denied there was a policy document drafted by Mbeki.
‘Mbeki has nothing to do with Cope’
According to a report on News24, “The cable adds new weight to continued speculation that Mbeki had a hand in Cope’s emergence — claims that have been consistently denied. But the cable said that Kotze’s comments ‘serve as the strongest indication yet that the former South African leader may be assisting the party formed by many of his long-time allies’.”
However, the report says that Ngonyama was dismissive of the WikiLeaks cable, saying Mbeki had never been involved in drafting Cope’s policies. “There is nothing like that, former president Mbeki has nothing to do with Cope’s policies and we have never consulted him. The only person who was involved was Moeletsi Mbeki as part of the scholars we consulted. The report is completely false, Cope had nothing to do with Mbeki.”
Thabo Mbeki has so far declined to comment.
In documents released by WikiLeaks last year, Mbeki was described as an “important but hypersensitive African figure” and a “brilliant, prickly leader of Africa’s most important state”.