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Cablegate: Peace Pays Rich Dividends

P 021532Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY LUANDA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5055
INFO SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS LUANDA 000774


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ECON AO
SUBJECT: Peace Pays Rich Dividends

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. Six years after the end of decades of civil war,
the provinces of Huila and Namibe are undergoing a renaissance, with
huge public investments in roads, railroads, schools, clinics,
administrative buildings, telecommunications and potable water.
Despite these efforts and significant private investment as well,
problems remain, particularly in developing human capacity for the
education and health sectors and in reviving agriculture, all
affected by dislocations caused by the war. The ongoing
reconstruction of both provinces helps explain the MPLA triumph in
the September 5 legislative elections in the two provinces. End
Summary.

Huila and Namibe Provinces: On the Move

2. (U) The Ambassador's September 21-27 visits to Huila and Namibe
provinces revealed two provinces dynamically rebuilding following
the 2002 end of the nation's decades-long, devastating civil war.
The two provinces are quite different: Huila is a heavily populated
inland province that suffered horrific devastation during the civil
war and whose population largely fled the countryside to take refuge
in urban centers. Namibe Province, in contrast, is primarily
desert, is lightly populated and experienced virtually no
destruction from the war. After six years of peace, both provinces
are energetically rebuilding, driven by both public and private
sector investment.

3. (U) GRA investments in the provinces include massive road and
bridge reconstruction, new/rehabilitated administrative buildings,
new schools and health posts, rehabilitated public parks and other
civic amenities, and ongoing installation of a fiber-optic cable to
connect provincial capitals. The government is also rebuilding the
Namibe-Lubango-Menongue railroad line, half of which was destroyed
during the war. The line, which is expected to reopen by the end of
the year, is essential to GRA plans to rebuild eastern Huila's rich
iron mines, which closed in the early 70's due to security concerns.
(Septel accesses commercial opportunities created by the railroad's
reconstruction.) The Namibe Port Director told the Ambassador that
the government plans to lengthen the commercial port by 500 meters
and to rehabilitate the iron ore-loading terminal to accommodate ore
from the planned reconstruction of the iron mines. Namibe province
is also working to build a fisheries industry to take advantage of
the rich waters along the province's coast.

4. (U) Private investment is also highly visible throughout both
provinces. The countryside is marked by large numbers of newly
built, mud-brick homes with corrugated metal roofs; towns and cities
are filled by new/rehabilitated shops and residences. Also, South
Africa Breweries/Miller 'Ngola brewery in Lubango, which also
operates a Coca-Cola factory, has aggressive plans for expanded
production.

USG Saves Lives

5. (U) USG anti-malaria programs implemented by USAID with technical
assistance from CDC are active in both provinces, especially the
heavily populated urban centers of Huila Province, where funds from
the President's Malaria Initiative are training over 200 workers to
spray sleeping areas in more than 80,000 homes, thereby protecting
nearly 440,000 individuals from mosquitoes. PMI also supports
distribution of insecticide-treated bednets in both provinces to
protect small children and pregnant women, two groups extremely
vulnerable to malaria. USG funding also supports the availability
of the latest generation drugfor treatment of malaria, Coartem, in
the two provinces. GRA efforts to increase capacity in the health
sector are severely constrained by the lack of doctors, nurses,
technicians and other trained staff. Newly arrived Cuban doctors
and nurses are helping to fill the void, but shortages remain.

Defying Expectations, MPLA Wins Big

6. (U) During the September 5 legislative elections, both provinces
went resoundingly for the ruling MPLA, which won over 90 percent of
the vote in each province, thus freezing out UNITA, which had
anticipated deeper support in the provinces, based on its showing in
the 1992 elections. The MPLA party secretary in Huila told the
Ambassador that the shift represented the electorate's recognition
that the MPLA had brought peace and reconstruction to the people,
tangible benefits that the opposition could not match. UNITA's
party representative, on the other hand, could offer nothing
concrete in explaining why voters should have voted for her party
instead of the ruling party; she was at a loss as to how UNITA could
broaden its support for future elections.

Comment

7. (SBU) Huila and Namibe are two provinces richly reaping the
benefits of peace. Provincial leaders' big plans for redevelopment
of their respective provinces are matched by plentiful resources
from the state. Nonetheless, significant challenges remain in both
provinces: How to rebuild Huila's once vibrant agricultural sector,
given a largely depopulated countryside; for example, the population
of the erstwhile breadbasket municipality of Cauluquembe has fallen
from a pre-independence total of 200,000 to around 60,000 today,
most of whom live in the towns. How to tap Namibe's rich tourist
potential, given very limited tourism infrastructure. How to staff
adequately the increasing number of freshly built schools and health
posts. Nonetheless, the provinces' energy and dynamism were
welcomed contrasts to that felt in Kwanza Norte, which the
Ambassador traversed in his drive back to Luanda, where nothing was
happening - roads largely ignored, no evident new houses, shops or
public investment - a phenomenon Angolans "credit" to a recently
replaced ineffective governor.


MOZENA

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