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Cablegate: Lesotho: Pm Visits South Africa Despite Trouble at Home

VZCZCXRO6218
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHRN
DE RUEHMR #0370/01 1771547
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 261547Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY MASERU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3094
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHMR/AMEMBASSY MASERU 3466

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MASERU 000370

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT ALSO FOR AF/S

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV ECON KMCA KDEM EAID SF LT
SUBJECT: LESOTHO: PM VISITS SOUTH AFRICA DESPITE TROUBLE AT HOME

REF: A) MASERU 367; B) MASERU 353 AND PREVIOUS

MASERU 00000370 001.2 OF 002


1. (U) SUMMARY: On June 18-20, the Prime Minister of Lesotho,
Phakalitha Mosisili, conducted an official visit to Cape Town,
South Africa. An official communiqui on the visit mentioned the
signing of agreements on several bilateral issues, including the
cross-border movement of citizens. In his public addresses,
Mosisili stressed Lesotho and South Africa's shared history, the
necessity of cooperation between the two countries on issues of
economic development, and the revitalization of the Joint
Bilateral Commission for Cooperation (JBCC). The communiqui
also acknowledged that Mosisili had briefed SA President Mbeki
on recent domestic political problems in Lesotho. However, this
visit will be most remembered for the Prime Minister's
conspicuous absence from his homeland during a time of strife
and tension. END SUMMARY.

---------------------------------

Official Visit at a Troubled Time

---------------------------------

2. (U) Phakalitha Mosisili, Lesotho's Prime Minister, conducted
an official visit to the Republic of South Africa on June 18-20.
On his trip to Cape Town, Mosisili was accompanied by Minister
of Foreign Affairs Mohlabi Tsekoa, Minister of Tourism,
Environment; and Culture Lebohang Ntsinyi; Minister of Trade and
Industry Popane Lebesa; and Minister of Finance and Development
Planning Dr. Timothy Thahane. At home in Maseru, Lesotho's
police had announced a curfew in light of recent attacks on the
residences of senior GOL officials (ref A). At several points
during his visit, members of the South African press queried
Mosisili concerning rapidly unfolding events in the Mountain
Kingdom.

--------------------------

Addresses to State Banquet

and the Business Community

--------------------------

3. (U) Prime Minister Mosisili formally addressed a state
banquet hosted by President Mbeki on June 19 and a business
forum on June 20. During his address at the state banquet,
Mosisili emphasized the shared history and cultural heritage of
the two nations. He referred to the need to further coordinate
Lesotho and South Africa's foreign policy positions in
multilateral organizations such as the United Nations, the
Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the African
Union (AU). Noting that South Africa "can ill afford to
co-exist with a poor, under-developed Lesotho within herself,"
he mentioned three joint economic goals for the two nations: 1)
a more robust economic integration of Lesotho into South Africa;
2) increased trade between the two countries; and 3) direct
South African investment in Lesotho's infrastructure in target
areas such as tourism, manufacturing, roads, railway lines,
electricity, and mining.

4. (U) The Prime Minister also spoke about the Lesotho-South
Africa Joint Bilateral Commission for Cooperation (JBCC) and its
2001 goal to elevate Lesotho from the "Least Developed Country"
category by 2006. According to Mosisili, the JBCC had had
successes in the struggle against cross-border crime, study
visas, and movement across borders, but had not achieved its
overarching anti-poverty objectives because of the business
community's lack of involvement. He called upon South Africa to
keep its pledge to allow Lesotho to share in the economic
benefits of South Africa's role as host of the 2010 World Cup.

5. (U) At the June 20 business forum, Prime Minister Mosisili
stuck with many of the same themes. Referring to Lesotho and
South Africa as "economically and socially intertwined," he
recalled Lesotho's high growth rates in the mid-1990s as a model
for the future. On the African Growth and Opportunity Act
(AGOA), Mosisili stated that this "initiative of the United
States of America" had "provided an auspicious boost to the

MASERU 00000370 002.2 OF 002


hitherto nascent and struggling textile and garment industry"
which "has now surpassed the Government as the largest employer
in the country."

-----------------------

The Official Communiqui

-----------------------

6. (U) Lesotho and South Africa issued an official communiqui on
June 19 regarding the visit. Interestingly, the communiqui
noted that the Prime Minister had briefed Mbeki on recent
political developments in Lesotho and on the progress of the
SADC Ministerial Troika dialogue aimed at resolving a political
impasse in Lesotho. The communiqui referred to the signing of
an agreement on the Facilitation of Cross Border Movement of
Citizens, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Cooperation in
Correctional Services, and an MOU on Cooperation on Cross Border
Fires and other Forest Management Issues. The communiqui also
stated that President Mbeki had reaffirmed South Africa's
commitment to assist implementation of the Sani Pass Mokgotlong
road project, predicted to yield benefits for tourism.

-----------------------------

Neighborly Summit, Bad Timing

-----------------------------

7. (SBU) COMMENT: In the context of the overwhelming
importance of the South Africa-Lesotho bilateral relationship to
the Mountain Kingdom, regular high-level bilateral missions such
as this one are quite necessary for Lesotho. On June 23, during
an unrelated meeting with resident diplomats (ref A), Foreign
Minister Tsekoa called the PM's visit a "fabulous success."
However, this visit may be most remembered for the Prime
Minister's conspicuous absence from his homeland during a time
of strife and tension. Nonetheless, the one document signed
during the trip which could have a near-term effect on Basotho
citizens is the "Agreement on the Facilitation of Cross Border
Movement of Citizens" which holds out the promise of greatly
simplifying the border crossing regime between the two
countries. However, no date has been set for the implementation
of this initiative. END COMMENT.
MURPHY

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