Botswana’s Foreign Minister Mompati Merafhe told United States ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice that there was a need to “strengthen the hands of change” in Zimbabwe while accepting that for now President Robert Mugabe would not disappear from the scene.
Rice said that the United States was re-examining its Zimbabwe policies, but there was a difficulty in balancing the need to avoid strengthening ZANU-PF hardliners while assisting the Movement for Democratic Change to show that their party could bring about improvements to the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans.
Merafhe said that Botswana was trying to assist the MDC in improving the economic situation by providing a US$500 million loan facility to selected private Zimbabwe business firms.
He said that his government would work with the Southern African Development Community finance ministers working group to ensure that ZANU-PF hardliners would not have access to hard currency through this line of credit.
Merafhe suggested that the United States might best support the MDC by providing assistance for education and health in Zimbabwe, including funds for enhancing teachers’ salaries.
He said that the US should consult the Zimbabwe Finance Minister, Tendai Biti, on ways to ensure that such funds would not be siphoned off by the ZANU-PF.
Viewing cable 09USUNNEWYORK521, AMBASSADOR RICE MEETS WITH BOTSWANA FOREIGN
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUCNDT #0521 1392214
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 192214Z MAY 09
FM USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6605
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY PRIORITY
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1413
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1316
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 3735
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L USUN NEW YORK 000521
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/19/2019
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR RICE MEETS WITH BOTSWANA FOREIGN
Classified By: ECOSOC M/C Robert Hagen for reasons 1.5(b) and (d)
¶1. (C) SUMMARY: On May 14, Botswana FM Mompati Merafhe told
Ambassador Rice that Botswana would balance support for
Zimbabwean social ministries controlled by the MDC and
revitalization of the economy with the necessity of
continuing to deny access to foreign credit to ZANU-PF
leaders. To this end, Botswana had launched bank credits for
select Zimbabwean business firms, but would tightly monitor
the program. He recommended that the USG support salary
payments for teachers and the health sector, perhaps
utilizing the SADC Finance Ministers working group that would
monitor regional assistance to Zimbabwe. Merafhe stated he
was “reasonably optimistic” about South Africa President
Zuma’s new cabinet. He praised PEPFAR’s support for
Botswana’s public health program as well as AGOA-generated
job creation and urged the Obama administration to generate
new initiatives for which Botswana, an emerging country,
might be eligible. END SUMMARY
¶2. (U) On May 14, Ambassador Rice met with Botswana Foreign
Minister Mompati Merafhe who had come to New York to accept
recognition of Botswana as “the best African country of the
year” by the Celebrate Africa Foundation. Ambassador Rice
praised Botswana’s “steady leadership” in the region and
commented that the new administration would seek to
strengthen our bilateral relationship.
¶3. (C) In commenting on Zimbabwe, Merafhe noted the need to
“strengthen the hands of change” while accepting that for
now, President Mugabe would not disappear from the scene.
Ambassador Rice stated that the USG was re-examining its
Zimbabwe policies, noting the difficulty of balancing the
need to avoid strengthening ZANU-PF hardliners while
assisting the MDC to show that their party can bring about
improvements to the life of ordinary Zimbabweans. Merafhe
agreed, noting that Botswana was trying to assist MDC in
improving the economic situation by providing a 500 million
USD loan facility to selected private Zimbabwe business
firms. He stated that the government would work with the
SADC finance ministers working group to ensure that ZANU-PF
hardliners would not have access to hard currency through
this line of credit.
¶4. (C) Merafhe suggested that the United States might best
support the MDC by providing assistance for education and
health in Zimbabwe, including funds for enhancing teacher
salaries. He thought the USG should consult the Zimbabwe
Finance Minister, a MDC post, on ways to ensure that such
funds could not be siphoned off by the ZANU-PF.
¶5. (C) FM Merafhe termed former South African President
Mbeki, the “worst of the worst” and quipped that current
President Zuma had to be an improvement. He said he was
“reasonably optimistic” about Zuma’s new cabinet, but that FM
Mashabane was an unknown quantity.
¶6. (U) Merafhe urged the USG to continue the U.S. President’s
Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), noting that PEPFAR
financing had permitted Botswana to reach 117,000 out of
140,000 HIV-positive patients needing anti-virals. He said
that initial indications suggested that Botswana’s HIV
incidence was beginning to fall with the biggest success
lying in a 96% reduction of mother/infant transmission.
Merafhe noted that Botswana had successfully launched a
“cluster” program of providing health clinics to groups of
villages and that follow-on steps would include placing more
advanced medical technology into clinics as opposed to
staffing and equipping large hospitals. Merafhe also urged
the continuation of the African Growth and Opportunities Act
(AGOA) tariff provisions, noting that AGOA had created 10,000
new textile industry jobs in Botswana.
¶7. (U) Ambassador Rice commented that the Clinton
administration had launched AGOA, the Bush administration
PEPFAR, and the new administration was open to creative
thinking on a new initiative in which Botswana might lead by
assisting other African countries through the dissemination
of good practice and know-how. The agricultural sector
might be a fertile sector for a new initiative, FM Merathe
agreed, noting that Botswana’s recent expansion of
agricultural inputs (seed and fertilizer) to small farmers
had led to a record-setting bumper crop, expansion of land
under cultivation, and a boost to food security. Ambassador
Rice commented that assistance with renewable energy would be
another area to explore assistance and joint programs.