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Cablegate: Sag Defends Zimbabwe Policy in Codel Berman Meeting

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OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMA RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHTRO
DE RUEHSA #1831/01 2311337
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 181337Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5441
INFO RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN IMMEDIATE 5933
RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN IMMEDIATE 0092
RUEHJO/AMCONSUL JOHANNESBURG IMMEDIATE 8298
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RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
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RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PRETORIA 001831

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR AF/S (MARBURG), AF/RSA, H (AMACDERMOTT)
DEPT PLEASE PASS TO HILL STAFFERS RKING, P-AMARSH, DBERAKA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM OVIP SF ZI
SUBJECT: SAG DEFENDS ZIMBABWE POLICY IN CODEL BERMAN MEETING

PRETORIA 00001831 001.2 OF 002


This is the second of three cables reporting on CODEL
Berman's July 1-6, 2008 visit to South Africa. This cable is
Sensitive but Unclassified. Not for Internet distribution.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On July 3, 2008, DepForMin Aziz Pahad
thanked CODEL Berman for visiting South Africa and expressed
appreciation for congressional funding to combat HIV/AIDS and
support for legislation removing anti-apartheid activists
from the U.S. terrorist list. During a lively and at times
pointed exchange on Zimbabwe, Pahad strongly defended South
Africa's policy and urged the CODEL to support the African
Union's call for a government of national unity, which Pahad
claimed is "the only way out of the Zimbabwe crisis." South
Africa is focused on facilitating dialogue between ZANU-PF
and the MDC and believes calls for new mediators and
expansion of smart sanctions are not helpful. On South
Africa's domestic front, Pahad suggested that the recent
shift in ANC leadership was "healthy," although he admitted
that in his view the sweeping changes in the party were "too
soon." The South African Government (SAG) was doing its best
to confront the country's challenges, many of which were
inherited from the previous regime. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) CODEL Berman, accompanied by Ambassador,
EconCounselor, and PolOff (notetaker), met with DepForMin
Aziz Pahad on July 3 at the Union Building. DFA DepDG for
the Americas and Europe Gert Grobler and Americas Director
Fadl Nacerodien joined Pahad. Pahad warmly welcomed the
CODEL to South Africa, and thanked the CODEL for their
support for U.S. funding for HIV/AIDS in Africa and the
recently-passed legislation that removed the "terrorist"
designation from ANC and other anti-apartheid activists.

-------------------------------------------
National Unity "Only Solution" for Zimbabwe
-------------------------------------------

3. (SBU) On Zimbabwe, Pahad strongly defended President
Mbeki's diplomatic approach. The recent AU resolution on
Zimbabwe, calling for a government of national unity, should
serve as a "guideline" for the international community, Pahad
argued. "No one party can solve Zimbabwe's crisis," Pahad
argued, "the challenges are too deep." To promote the
national unity government -- which Pahad claimed is "the only
way forward" -- South Africa is trying to get ZANU-PF and the
MDC to start meeting. Despite the MDC's public preconditions
on talks, Pahad believed that both parties will negotiate
through the South African facilitation; "they have no option
but serious dialogue."

4. (SBU) Pressed by several congressman on the failure of
South Africa's "quiet diplomacy" policy, Pahad pled for "a
few months to solve the problem." He stressed that the SAG
is deeply concerned about the "urgent" situation, but is
focused on negotiations to avoid the "Kenya situation."
Zimbabwe is not an "academic exercise for us," he noted,
adding that the region "cannot escape the negative backlash
should a civil war erupt." "Don't underestimate the level of
concern," Pahad stressed, admitting that the economic
situation has become "ridiculous" and a "disaster."

5. (SBU) Pahad dismissed calls for a new Zimbabwe mediator,
Q5. (SBU) Pahad dismissed calls for a new Zimbabwe mediator,
suggesting that such a person would "have to start over" and
would waste "limited time." He also suggested the Mutumbara
faction must be part of any transition. On sanctions, Pahad
argued that "smart sanctions" are just an "illusion" and will
achieve nothing. The business community has "already imposed
its economic sanctions" on Zimbabwe.

--------------------------------------------- ---------
ANC Leadership Changes Healthy; Confronting Challenges
--------------------------------------------- ---------

6. (SBU) On South Africa's political evolution, Pahad
explained to the CODEL that the ruling African National
Congress (ANC) had recently gone through a major transition,
with most of the senior SAG leadership, including Pahad
himself, "peacefully removed" from the party leadership at
the December 2007 Polokwane conference. Pahad mused that
after 15 years "perhaps it is time for change." In the
long-run, Pahad argued that the transition will be "healthy"

PRETORIA 00001831 002.2 OF 002


for the party and the country, if "managed properly" --
adding, with a tinge of regret, that he personally believed
it was "too soon" for a major shift in leadership. He
suggested that the party will unify before the April/May 2009
elections and work for a common "manifesto."

7. (SBU) While South Africa has made significant progress
since the democratic transition in 1994, Pahad noted that the
country faces many serious challenges. South Africa
inherited many deep-seated and complex problems, which will
take decades to solve. In addition, the press tends to
exaggerate the negative, Pahad noted, without recognizing the
SAG's achievements, such as the millions of new houses, free
water and electricity, and expansion of 13 million social
grants, including to orphaned children up to the age of 16.
Commenting on current developments, Pahad observed that:

-- South Africa's electricity crisis, brought about by
larger-than-expected growth and the provision of free
electricity to poor South Africans, was badly handled,
although the situation has improved in recent months;

-- the SAG does not expect to reach the IMF-projected growth
rate of five percent for this year;

-- the SAG is tackling unemployment through greater emphasis
on basic and vocational skills (making the "unemployable"
employable); and

-- President Mbeki was committed to tackling the recent
xenophobic attacks ("which shocked us all"), as evidenced by
his public remarks at a July 3 memorial service for the
victims.

-------------------------------------
Africa Major Focus for Foreign Policy
-------------------------------------

8. (SBU) Pahad stressed that South Africa cannot sustain its
prosperity and democracy without "dealing with Africa."
Repeating President Mbeki's mantra, Pahad noted that South
Africa cannot be an "island of prosperity in a sea of
poverty." To promote Africa's development, South Africa is
contributing significant troops to peace operations (the
fourth largest troop contributor in the world); is focusing
on post-conflict reconstruction in countries like Burundi,
DRC and Rwanda; is trying to improve governance in Africa
through the Africa Peer Review Mechanism and other fora; and
is promoting trade liberalization at the WTO. Africa needs
the support of the international community to meet the
Millennium Development Goals, a point President Mbeki will
press at the G-8 summit.
BOST

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