Cablegate: Sadc Extraordinary Summit Readout by Mfa

DE RUEHMR #0214/01 0951303
O P 051303Z APR 07





E.O. 12958: N/A


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1. (C) Minister of Foreign Affairs Tsekoa invited the
diplomatic corps for an April 4 briefing on the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) Extraordinary Summit held in
Tanzania March 29. The Minister opened the meeting with an
overview of political developments in Lesotho and specifically
pointed out how the U.S. Millennium Challenge Account (MCA)
would assist the country in key sectors; the Irish AID was
supporting education; and the Chinese government (PRC) was
contributing through construction of a new Parliament. He
emphasized the importance of these partners in Lesotho's
political and economical maturization. Regarding the internal
political status quo, Tsekoa stated that Prime Minister Mosisili
had requested the SADC Summit to send a delegation to Lesotho in
order to facilitate the dialogue between all relevant entities
and stakeholders. Concerning the DRC, the Foreign Minister
revealed that SADC was expected to intervene to assist in order
to seek resolution of the conflict between rebel military forces
and the government.

2. (C) According to the Foreign Minister, Zimbabwean President
Mugabe wanted SADC to help present "the whole story" as he felt
the United Kingdom and others were too harsh in their criticisms
of the situation in his country. According to Tsekoa, it was
agreed by the Summit attendees that President Mbeki of the
Republic of South Africa should be the interlocutor/negotiator
with Mugabe since he had previously tried to have talks with the
Zimbabwe President. (Comment: The Republic of South Africa's
new High Commissioner to Lesotho, Happy Mahlangu, had just told
the Ambassador in a one-on-one conversation 20 minutes prior to
the briefing, that Mbeki was perceived as "aloof" in both
domestic and external situations. He seemed doubtful of how
fruitful Mbeki's interventions would be. End Comment.)
Finally, while the media was still present, Foreign Minister
Tsekoa thanked all members of the diplomatic corps for their

participation and promised that such briefings would be
scheduled on a regular basis. There was not much additional
information during the briefing that had not been contained in
the SADC communiqui. End Summary.

Basotho History and Overview

3. (C) Foreign Minister Tsekoa opened his briefing by saying
that he felt obligated to provide information on the SADC Summit
to the diplomatic corps and, for a period of time, to the media.
He took special pains to recognize South Africa's new High
Commissioner Mr. Mahlangu. Tsekoa presented a discourse on
Lesotho and its important relationship with the development
partners because it was not an island and, therefore, must have
an ongoing dialogue with other countries. He believed such
exchanges would nurture better relationships. He then focused
on the government's goal and, in the process, referred to
Finance Minister Thahane's March 30 budget address. He cited
the development of an environment conducive to growth and
development as essential, particularly since it would buttress
the democratic gains made since independence 40 years ago.
Within Lesotho's political history, he asserted that the country
had faltered in 1970, had suffered throughout the military
regime in 1986, but since 1993, the country had returned to
democratic rule. He acknowledged that in 1998, unfortunately,
the country had overcome violent conflict requiring the
intervention of SADC military forces. Lesotho's decision to
move to a Mixed Member Parliament (MMP) in conjunction with a
first past-the-post electoral system, he considered a major step
on the ladder toward a fully functioning democracy, despite the
challenges that the MMP presented.

4. (C) Thirdly, Tsekoa focused on Lesotho's desire to graduate
from the category of Least Developed Countries (LCDs). The
nation and the government are presently overly-occupied with
poverty reduction, including agricultural development, soil
reclamation, and cessation of erosion, especially since the
country had suffered hard from drought. The GOL must insure
timely development, he said, in concert with major jobs creation
and implementation of development programs. He used the MCA as
an example of how this goal would be achieved and thanked the
U.S. Ambassador and the U.S. Government for their deep
involvement and sincere support for Lesotho's development. He
identified areas in which the MCA would, once finalized, assist
Lesotho: via the harvesting of Lesotho's white gold, i.e.
water, strengthening the health infrastructure, wetlands

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protection, providing sector development and capacity building
development in the business community, and the fight against

5. (C) He then recognized the Irish Ambassador and thanked the
Republic of Ireland for its support of education at the
secondary and interciary levels. He included Japan, which does
not have a resident mission in Lesotho, but covers it from
Pretoria, for its role in building new schools across Lesotho.
He gave a nod to South Africa and the joint bilateral
cooperation they enjoyed along with the good bilateral
relationship with India. Finally, he recognized the importance
of overall infrastructural development in the areas of roads,
water and construction, citing the new Parliament being built by
the People's Republic of China (PRC). On the whole, all
partnerships are moving from strength to strength in his view.

Internal Post Election Issues

6. (C) Turning to the February 2007 national elections, the
Foreign Minister thanked the international community and the
Ambassadors present for either supporting observers and/or
trainers as well as serving as observers themselves. Most
Basotho citizens believed the elections were free, fair and
transparent; this had also been cited at the March 15 Opening of
Parliament by his Majesty King Letsie III. Unlike previous
years, this opening was marred by skirmishes even after the King
approached and went through the Guard of Honor. Tsekoa
obliquely blamed the oppositions, headed by the All Basotho
Convention (ABC) party leader Thomas Thabane, for the
unprecedented noise that prevailed even through the national
anthem, a situation Lesotho had never before experienced. He
alluded to the statements on Parliamentary sit-ins and
dissatisfaction that continued into the night, but did not go
into detail since he observed that all present were aware of the
situation. Tsekoa praised the budget speech of Finance Minister
Thahane, which had laid out clearly the emphasis on Lesotho's
national goals and next steps. Debates on the budget in
Parliament would continue. Next would follow development of a
specific strategic plan sector by sector. In concluding this
portion of his address, Minister Tsekoa said when all is said
and done, "it is in the hands of the Government of Lesotho and
the people to exert leadership in uniting the nation." He
called on the development partners to offer a helping hand in a
timely manner to achieve all of the goals previously outlined.
He then dismissed the press.

Action of the SADC Summit?

7. (C) With only the diplomatic corps and a few senior members
of government present, the Foreign Minister said that the
question of Zimbabwe had arisen during the SADC Ministerial
Council here in Maseru. The Summit in Dar es Salaam, as
indicated by the communiqui, was to address the issues of
political situations in Lesotho, the Democratic Republic of
Congo and Zimbabwe. Concerning Lesotho in Dar es Salaam, Tsekoa
continued, Prime Minister Mosisili was called upon to brief that
body. The main points presented were that the election had been
peaceful and had been deemed free, fair and transparent by the
international observers. However, the Prime Minister elaborated
on the fact that opposition parties had a number of
administrative complaints, for example the alliance between the
ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and the National
Independent Party (NIP). The Prime Minister argued that
explanation of the alliance had been generally presented by the
Speaker of the House during the opening session of Parliament
when she said to opposition leaders that she was bound by law to
respect the list presented under the rubrics of the Independent
Electoral Commission (IEC). The opposition insisted that Mr.
Anthony Manyeli, the deposed leader of the NIP, was invalid
since his name did not appear on any electoral lists. Mr.
Manyeli's case, according to the Prime Minister, had been
appealed by his own party, which ruled in favor of the "new" NIP
and its relationship with the LCD. The Prime Minister did say,
according to Tsekoa, that the GOL will await the court decision
since Mr. Manyeli had also entered a protest. Mosisili added
that the opposition leaders had seen some of the SADC leaders as
well as the SADC Executive Secretary and had knowledge of the
procedures necessary to address any complaints they may have.
Since the Council of Minister had deferred to the SADC Summit
for action, there would be a three minister delegation that
would travel to Lesotho for further discussion. The purpose of
the trip is to listen to "grievances" of the opposition and to

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facilitate dialogue. The GOL is awaiting confirmation from SADC
of the delegation's exact timing so the Government will be able
to notify all parties, churches and other stakeholders. Tsekoa
reported that the Prime Minister had told the Summit gathering
that the GOL has nothing to hide and that the delegation will
have access to any and all documents related to the February 16

8. (C) Tsekoa spoke briefly about the Summit consideration of
the situation in the DRC. President Kabila had requested SADC
to send a delegation to assist the DRC post elections. The
emphasis, he said, was on handling the army assembled by
opposition candidate Bemba, which will not integrate with
government forces. Tsekoa mentioned the terrible violence that
had occurred in the DRC and that the government there was eager
to reabsorb any rebellious elements. Tsekoa described the
Summit analysis of Zimbabwe as "a very uncomfortable issue which
comes up every where;" the question is how to move Zimbabwe
forward. He reported that President Mugabe had called upon the
Summit to present a clearer and more accurate picture of what he
deemed the violence caused by the MDC movement (in other worlds,
blame the victim). Mugabe reportedly said that his country is
suffering economically and that sanctions are adversely
affecting the population. Tsekoa, observed that there were
three million Zimbabweans who sought sanctuary in South Africa,
and other countries as well such as Botswana, Zambia and
Mozambique. Mugabe's overall reaction was that the media had
mistakenly portrayed him and his actions. Because the issue is
so difficult, the SADC Summit named President Mbeki to
facilitate dialogue in Zimbabwe. Attendees believed that Mbeki
was able to handle the Mugabe problem because he was acceptable
to all parties within SADC. SADC Ministers, according to
Tsekoa, are very concerned about Zimbabwe because of its impact

on the views of the United Kingdom and other countries and
because of its potential to impact adversely on their
relationships with the international community. Importantly,
the Foreign Minister said that Mosisili had to push SADC to send
a delegation as soon as possible; other members wanted SADC to
wait until all court cases had been resolved. When Tsekoa asked
if there were any questions about his presentation, we asked if
there were other specifics of the delegation's trips that he
could share with the assembled group. He responded that he did
not have the timetable, but that the underlying purpose was to
keep the dialogue going between the opposition leaders, other
parties and the GOL. Tsekoa emphasized that Lesotho's desire
was to find a way forward during the SADC phase and then to come
up with concrete next steps. He added that the NIP's elderly
President, Mr. Manyeli, had, before the election, stated his
wishes to retire from the party, a fact which had not been
revealed in public on previous occasions. The Irish Ambassador
wanted to know if there had been "straight talk" with President
Mugabe. The response was that there had been "protracted"
talks, but that they were very frank.

9. (C) The Foreign Minister then adjourned the meeting after
inviting the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, the Chinese
Ambassador, to offer comments. The Dean thanked the Minister for
the read-out and agreed that the diplomatic community would also
find such regular meetings very useful.


10. (C) Comment: We concurred with the PRC representative's
points that such meetings were important, especially if they can
be held every month or so as promised. It appears that the
opposition parties in Lesotho have accepted the fact that as
long as SADC is somehow engaged, they will not try to promote
further stay-aways or other direct action, and, in fact, have
made a number of statements on the radio to that effect. It was
difficult to discern from Tsekoa's comments on Zimbabwe how
strong, or weak, the SADC's designated negotiator, President
Mbeki, would be. There have been rumors that Mbeki, with the
backing of the other SADC country leaders, would encourage
Mugabe simply to step down, despite his declaration that he
would run again. The bravado exhibited by Mugabe during his
arrival and departure at the Summit, has been viewed here as a
face saving gesture. We would characterize the mood expressed
as cautiously optimistic and hardening against Mugabe, not only
by Lesotho as Chair of SADC, but by the entire region. Post
will provide details of the delegation talks in Lesotho as soon
as the schedule becomes firm. End Comment.

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