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Cablegate: Moz Govt Both Supports and Opposes Nec Site

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MAPUTO 001081

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE
FOR OBO/REPM/EV - PIERRE WELCH
E.O. 129958: N/A
TAGS: ABLD AMGT MZ NEC
SUBJECT: MOZ GOVT BOTH SUPPORTS AND OPPOSES NEC SITE

REF: MAPUTO 00293

1. (SBU) Summary. Tourism Minister Sumbana stated publicly
that he opposed any effort by the USG to acquire the Four
Seasons site for use as an NEC. He confirmed his opposition
in private, but conceded that he could be overruled for
reasons of bilateral cooperation. At a subsequent meeting
with Post representatives, Foreign Minister stated that
Sumbana could be managed, but that our prime concern should
be ensuring support from the municipal government. He also
expressed his eagerness to see this deal concluded before
the next government transition.

-------------------------------------
OPPOSITION TO THE SALE
-------------------------------------
2. (U) On July 15 a local newspaper reported that Four
Seasons site had been sold to the SOTUR/IMOBCI consortium.
It said that the USG had expressed interest in the site for
its new Embassy but that its proposal was rejected by
Minister of Tourism Sumbana. He was directly quoted as
saying: "I turned down the proposal from the U.S. Embassy
because the area, and the building itself, are not
appropriate for diplomatic services. The premises was
designed solely as a tourist project.and it should stay that
way."

3. (SBU) At our instruction, U.S. Embassy-contracted
attorney spoke with Sumbana privately to confirm his
position and rationale. Sumbana stated that, as Minister of
Tourism, it was his responsibility to oppose the sale of
land to the USG for the reasons stated above. He said he
had been assured by the concessionaires throughout the
tender process that they were not interested in selling to
the USG and would develop the site for tourist purposes. He
also expressed concern for the impact a U.S. Embassy would
have on traffic flow during and after construction.

4. (SBU) Sumbana conceded that if the GRM decided it was in
their best interest to permit the USG to build an Embassy on
that site, he would be overruled. He further suggested the
solution lies through dialogue among the GRM, the
SOTUR/IMOBCI consortium and the USG.

5. (SBU) Comment: SOTUR/IMOBCI has been playing both sides
while legally finalizing its concession, and surprisingly
Sumbana appears to have believed their stated intentions not
to sell the site to the USG. This could explain why earlier
this year SOTUR/IMOBCI would not agree to send a letter to
the Minister of Tourism announcing their willingness to sell
the property to the USG. It should also be noted that,
should the USG acquire this property, it will be necessary
to obtain a waiver from the GRM (acting through the Ministry
of Tourism) to permit other than tourist development of the
site.

--------------------------------------------- -----
MEETING WITH FOREIGN MINISTER
--------------------------------------------- -----
6. (SBU) Ambassador, Management Officer, GSO and attorney
met on August 4 with Foreign Minister Simao to discuss
Sumbana's remarks and to learn the status of the bundle of
rights proposal. Ambassador told Simao that she was
continuing to work the U.S. end of this project and
expressed the hope that we would be able to close this deal
soon. Given the mixed message the GRM was sending, she
asked for clarification on the GRM's position vis--vis
disposition of the Four Seasons site.

7. (SBU) Simao responded that a working group had been set
up with all stakeholders, including the Mayor's office, and
that our proposal was on the table. He added that he, too,
wants to finalize this process soon, and certainly before
the Mozambican Presidential elections which are scheduled to
take place in December. He agreed that it was Sumbana's job
to defend tourism proposals, but, downplaying Sumbana's
role, said that Sumbana could be convinced to "put a hotel
elsewhere." Simao said that the Municipal Government was
the new key player given the Mayor's strict adherence to
planning and zoning regulations. He was pleased to hear
that the Embassy has kept the Mayor informed of our interest
in the site. He also stressed the importance of winning
public support for our proposal as fears of restricted beach
access could generate public opposition.

8. (SBU) Simao said that another working group involving
other departments had been formed to study our bundle of
rights proposal. When Ambassador asked what next steps
should be taken to keep this effort moving forward, he
suggested that we wait for the GRM response to the bundle of
rights proposal. He indicated that it would be forthcoming.

9. (SBU) Comment: Foreign Minister Simao supports this
project and wants to see the USG acquire the land. He is
concerned that the Embassy build the necessary links with
the municipal government since they also will weigh in
heavily on this project. The Mayor is well aware of USG
interest in the site and has told the Ambassador on at least
two occasions that he supports the project. We will
continue to seek ways to cement our positive relationship
with the Municipal Government. Regarding the bundle of
rights agreement, we plan to schedule a working level
meeting to confirm that the GRM is actively addressing the
issues we require and that a response is indeed forthcoming.
La Lime

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