Britain says Zimbabwe merits increased attention- Wikileaks

Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office elevated Zimbabwe to a stand-alone unit within the African Directorate two weeks after the signing of the Global Political Agreement which ushered in the inclusive government because it now merited increased attention- a diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks says.

This was done by new FCO Africa director Adam Wood, on 29 September 2008, three months after his appointment to the FCO. Wood restructured the Africa directorate into four departments to balance work-loads and create "synergy" along common work strands.

The Zimbabwe team was turned into a stand-alone unit headed by a Deputy Assistant Secretary equivalent.

“Wood thinks Zimbabwe merits increased attention, especially if the international community begins supporting a recovery agenda,” the cable says.

Wood, who had joined the FCO after nearly 20 years overseas in postings with the Department for International Development, the World Bank and as High Commissioner to Kenya, was, however, considered an outsider in the FCO.

He did not last in the department and was appointed lieutenant governor of Isle of Man in November last year but should take up the post next month.

Wood was described by his contemporaries as “a nice guy and will get the job done, but you wouldn't want to have a pint with the guy”. The cable says this was a fairly damning personality assessment in the FCO's pints-and-policy culture.

One FCO official said:"Wood was in the right country when a crisis happened and that got his name on the right list," referring to the post-election crisis in Kenya.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08LONDON2477, AFRICA AND UK: NEW FCO AFRICA DIRECTOR ADAM WOOD AND CHANGES TO THE AFRICA DIRECTORATE REF: LONDON 1426

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08LONDON2477

2008-09-29 16:04

2011-02-04 21:09

CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN

Embassy London

VZCZCXRO4243

PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR

DE RUEHLO #2477 2731639

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

P 291639Z SEP 08

FM AMEMBASSY LONDON

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9932

INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L LONDON 002477

 

SIPDIS NOFORN

 

DEPT FOR INR/B E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/29/2018

 

TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR XA UK

 

SUBJECT: AFRICA AND UK: NEW FCO AFRICA DIRECTOR ADAM WOOD AND CHANGES TO THE AFRICA DIRECTORATE REF: LONDON 1426

 

Classified By: Political Counselor Richard Mills, reasons 1.4 (b/d).

 

1.(C/NF) New FCO Africa Director Adam Wood, who started in July, told us on September 29 that his policy priorities for Africa are conflict resolution and governance institution-building. In line with Foreign Secretary Miliband's "Better World, Better Britain" strategic framework (reftel), focusing on these two areas will help create an environment in which "Britain can engage on threats emanating from and transiting through Africa." Wood said he fully supports a "cohesive approach" from all partners in the international community, as Britain can only make "limited progress in these areas bilaterally." While the EU and UN are important partners, he sees the U.S. as the UK's paramount partner in Africa.

 

2.(C/NF) In an attempt to balance work-loads and create "synergy" along common work strands, Wood is re-structuring the Africa Directorate to comprise four departments. The Sudan Unit will remain the same, and the Zimbabwe Team will become a stand-alone unit headed by a Deputy Assistant Secretary equivalent. Wood thinks Zimbabwe merits increased attention, especially if the international community begins supporting a recovery agenda. Grouping West and Southern Africa together, a third department will cover Southern Africa, Nigeria and Central Africa, and West Africa. The middle band of Africa with "its inter-connecting conflicts," will be covered by a fourth department, including the Horn, the Great Lakes, and the Pan Africa Policy Unit (PAPU). Wood hopes PAPU's integration into the Central and East Africa Department will focus its work on conflict resolution and long-term planning. This new bureaucratic structure largely follows the Department for International Development's Africa structure and will be gradually phased in as staff change in natural rotations.

 

BIO NOTE --------

 

3.(C/NF) Adam Wood takes up his directorship in the Africa Directorate after nearly 20 years overseas, in postings with the Department for International Development (DFID), the World Bank (in Washington), and, most recently, as UK High Commissioner to Kenya. Wood was the FCO's second choice. The FCO's internal hiring committee had reportedly picked someone else, but Foreign Secretary Miliband would not sign off on the individual because "he did not have enough Africa experience." Wood's name was number two on the list, and Miliband was satisfied. Originally a DFID employee, Wood has never worked in the FCO before, and the FCO as an institution appears to view him as an outsider. As one of Wood's contemporaries put it, "he's a nice guy and will get the job done, but you wouldn't want to have a pint with the guy," a fairly damning personality assessment in the FCO's pints-and-policy culture. It also begs the question of how much personal influence Wood will wield in the office. As another FCO official put it, "Wood was in the right country when a crisis happened and that got his name on the right list," referring to the post-election crisis in Kenya.

 

4.(C/NF) Colleagues and other diplomats who have worked with him describe Wood as "nice but distant." He is willing to exchange information and views, but never appears very engaged on policy issues and creation. One subordinate in the British Embassy in Kenya said he had "no noticeable impact on policy." Wood is content to devolve as much decision-making as possible to chiefs of mission and desk officers. Thus far Wood appears to be good at making the paper move through HMG's foreign affairs bureaucracy but has made no noticeable impact on the FCO's Africa policy. We expect Wood will be a largely cooperative partner on Africa issues and will encourage his staff to coordinate with the U.S., but it is unlikely that he will promote any dynamic policy initiatives. Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX

TUTTLE

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