Namibia’s deputy Minister of Mines and Energy Bernhardt Esau said Zimbabwe was going to be his primary challenge when his country was elected to chair the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme.
The United States embassy in Namibia conceded that it indeed was going to be because of the close relations between Windhoek and Harare.
“Esau struck us as smart, thoughtful, and engaging,” an embassy official said. “He is new to the Kimberley Process but seems determined to get up to speed quickly and to work cooperatively with us.”
“The difficult issue for him, however, may be Zimbabwe, an issue on which he might be boxed in by his own government’s policy. Namibia’s ruling party, SWAPO, has longstanding ties with Robert Mugabe from the liberation war years, and it has declined to criticise the Zimbabwean leader publicly.”
Viewing cable 09WINDHOEK82, NAMIBIA ON KIMBERLEY PROCESS CHAIRMANSHIP
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RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI 0002
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 0001
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 WINDHOEK 000082
FOR EEB (BBROOKS-RUBIN) AND AF/S (EPELLETREAU)
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/04/2019
SUBJECT: NAMIBIA ON KIMBERLEY PROCESS CHAIRMANSHIP
Classified By: DCM Matt Harrington for reasons 1.4 (B) and (D).
¶1. (C) Namibia’s newly appointed chair of the Kimberley
Process (KP) — Deputy Minister of Mines and Energy Bernhardt
Esau — told DCM on February 24 that Zimbabwe would be his
primary challenge. He plans a site visit there shortly and
has invited South Africa and Angola to join the delegation,
although the exact terms of reference are still being
developed. It is unclear how firm a stance Esau will take on
Zimbabwe, given his own government’s historical ties to
ZANU-PF and reluctance to criticize Robert Mugabe. During
his chairmanship, Esau also hopes to standardize the KP
certificate, conduct a number of site visits, host a
successful intersessional meeting in June, and focus on
provision of capacity-building and training for the weaker
states. End Summary.
¶2. (C) Deputy Minister of Mines and Energy Bernhardt Esau
was recently named to lead Namibia’s chairmanship of the
Kimberley Process (KP). DCM called on him on February 24 to
learn more about his plans for the chairmanship. Esau was
accompanied by KP Coordinator Cecilie Mbundu.
¶3. (C) DCM congratulated Esau on Namibia’s KP chairmanship
and expressed the USG’s desire to collaborate closely with
him on the key issues. He asked about Esau’s plans and
objectives for the year.
¶4. (C) Esau, unprompted, identified Zimbabwe as his
principal challenge. He noted his intention to lead a site
visit to Zimbabwe within the next two weeks. He was prepared
to issue a public statement, but thought it would be
premature to do so before a site visit. Pressed on who would
comprise the delegation, Esau said he had invited South
Africa and Angola to participate, and had asked the chair of
the working group on monitoring to recommend others. Esau
added that he would like to include members of civil society,
but he did not elaborate. Asked who the delegation’s primary
interlocutors would be in Zimbabwe, Esau said his intention
would be to see the minister responsible for mines, as well
as the chamber of commerce and the chamber of mines. He also
expressed interest in calling on representatives of the labor
movement. Esau said the details on the terms of reference
had yet to be worked out.
¶5. (C) Esau identified his other primary challenges as
“administrative.” Organizing the intersessional meeting in
June, would consume quite a bit of his attention. He also
plans to conduct site visits, including to DRC, Liberia,
Bangladesh, and the United States.
¶6. (C) When DCM expressed concern about the potential for
backtracking by some on the core KP issues, Esau strongly
agreed on the need for vigilance. He said an energetic
response now was appropriate, perhaps focusing on
strengthening the capacity of weaker states. “Capacity
building should be the buzzword,” he said.
¶7. (C) The DCM solicited Esau’s thoughts on which areas
might prove fertile ground for collaboration with or support
from the United States. The Deputy Minister mentioned the
following: capacity-building and training, standardization
of the KP certificate, and implementation of resolutions from
the last plenary session.
¶8. (C) Esau struck us as smart, thoughtful, and engaging.
WINDHOEK 00000082 002 OF 002
He is new to the Kimberley Process but seems determined to
get up to speed quickly and to work cooperatively with us.
The difficult issue for him, however, may be Zimbabwe, an
issue on which he might be boxed in by his own government’s
policy. Namibia’s ruling party, SWAPO, has longstanding ties
with Robert Mugabe from the liberation war years, and it has
declined to criticize the Zimbabwean leader publicly.