The document, dated September 5, 2008, detailed a meeting between deputy director-general of policy co-ordination to the presidency Vusi Gumede, analysts Thabileng Mothabi and Queeneth Mlaba and US officials.
In the document, Gumede described how Mbeki thanked his Cabinet, deputy ministers and staff with “tears streaming”.
Zuma ‘an idiot’
Mothabi, according to the document, referred to now-Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe as “dumb” and President Jacob Zuma as an “idiot”.
“Zuma is an idiot … I mean really, really dumb on how policy is implemented.”
Mothabi was also quoted as saying that Zuma would smile when asked a question, then lean closer to ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe to hear the answer.
Former health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang was described by Mothabi as “actually very smart”, but tempestuous.
“If the ‘tea woman’ serves someone who ranks below her first, Manto will stop everyone and yell at the ‘tea woman’,” he said.
Gumede and Mothabi have since left the presidency.
The presidency would not comment on the matter, calling the leaked cables “rumours and gossip”.