Cape Town – Leaked intelligence documents obtained by Al Jazeera reveal there was a plot to assassinate African Union Commission (AUC) chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in Ethiopia days after she assumed the position in October 2012.
The documents also reveal that Sudan was suspected of being behind the plot, and that South African and Ethiopian intelligence agencies were unprepared, with South African officials admitting they did not have time to “neutralise” the threat and apprehend those involved.
The documents form part of a cache of hundreds of secret intelligence documents from spy agencies around the world which were leaked to Al Jazeera.
Dlamini-Zuma had previously been South Africa’s home affairs minister, and had served as foreign and health ministers before that. She is divorced from President Jacob Zuma and they have four children together.
According to the cables, South African intelligence officials were alerted to an imminent threat to Dlamini-Zuma’s life on 22 October 2012. The information on an attack within the next two days was relayed to the embassy in Addis Ababa, where the AUC headquarters are situated, and Dlamini-Zuma was told there may be changes to her protection arrangements. Four extra bodyguards were assigned to her hotel.
There were also concerns amongst South African security officials that the increased security was handled in a diplomatic manner and would not be seen as a sign of no confidence in Ethiopian security.
The cables also reveal that Sudan was suspected of being behind the plot, but there were no further details and the director of Ethiopia’s national intelligence said he doubted Sudan would carry out such operations.
There was also confusion over whether AU or Ethiopian security was responsible for Dlamini-Zuma’s security, while AUC bodyguards slept in corridors for four days with no food or water provided as the AUC did not make such arrangements.
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