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Cablegate: Congressional Black Caucus Visit to South Africa

VZCZCXRO0123
RR RUEHDU RUEHJO
DE RUEHSA #4244/01 3611037
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 271037Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3029
INFO RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 5173
RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN 9456
RUEHJO/AMCONSUL JOHANNESBURG 7800
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PRETORIA 004244

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED
SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF AND H
S/OFFICE OF GLOBAL AIDS COORDINATOR, BHAVNA PATEL
STATE PLEASE PASS TO USAID GLOBAL HEALTH BUREAU
HHS PLEASE PASS TO OFFICE OF GLOBAL HEALTH AFFAIRS, WILLIAM
STEIGER AND SAMUEL ANDENIYI-JONES

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON KHIV OREP PREL SF SOCI
SUBJECT: CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS VISIT TO SOUTH AFRICA
SPOTLIGHTS USG PEPFAR EFFORTS TO FIGHT HIV AND AIDS


1. (U) Summary: A delegation representing the Congressional
Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) led by Congresswoman Barbara
Lee (Dem., Calif.), Del. Donna M. Christensen (Dem., Virgin
Islands) and CBCF President Dr. Elsie Scott, visited South
Africa November 27 - December 2, 2008. The delegation met
with Minister of Social Development Dr. Zola Skweyiya,
Minister of Education Naledi Pandor and Archbishop Desmond
Tutu. The visit occurred and was centered on World AIDS Day
(WAD) and highlighted HIV/AIDS issues and the President's
Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program in South
Africa. CBCF has played an important role in ensuring that
the African continent becomes an important global strategic
partner to the United States. With its focus on public
health, leadership education and economic development, CBCF
is looking to expand its reach in these areas internationally
and to develop relationships abroad that will ultimately
allow access to a dynamic pool of quality programs and
services geared toward empowering black people and other
underserved populations overseas. End Summary

--------------------------------------------- ----
Structural and Capacity Issues Cited by Ministers
--------------------------------------------- ----

2. (SBU) The delegation met Minister of Social Development
Skewyiya, whose ministry works closely with the USG PEPFAR
team on issues surrounding orphans and vulnerable children
(OVC). Skewyiya admitted that structures to look after OVC
are lacking in South Africa, especially since many of the
traditional extended families that would normally care for
OVC have been decimated by AIDS. Skewyiya explained that
faith-based organizations (FBOs) are among the only presence
in rural areas and that it is important for the churches to
be involved in rural social support efforts and for the
government to work with them. He noted that thousands of
orphans are not registered and that there are insufficient
social workers, as well as insufficient government workers,
to administer the system. He stated that many of the
problems that surround assistance to OVC are due more to a
lack of an effective bureaucracy, than to a lack of funding.
Skewyiya commented that "expectations for South Africa are
too high, the pressure to do all too big" and that these
important social issues will likely be lost amidst the
upcoming political debate on ANC leadership.

3. (SBU) The delegation also met Education Minister Pandor,
who expressed her concern with the high-level of HIV
infection in teachers and acknowledged PEPFAR support for the
National Department of Education's HIV and AIDS peer
education programs for learners. She noted that South
Africa's Medical Research Council has reviewed some
successful behavior change interventions in Kwa-Zulu Natal
Province and will replicate one of their programs that was
found to both educate students and alter behaviors. Although
South Africa has achieved almost universal access to
education, the Minister noted that many of the challenges she
faces are a legacy of apartheid, including inequalities in
the system and poor infrastructure. She pointed to the
overarching challenges of educational transformation that
Qoverarching challenges of educational transformation that
will require greatly improving teacher quality and putting
monitoring and evaluation systems in place. The Department
is looking at ways to actively recruit educational
administrators, especially in finance and management of
higher education and would welcome recruits from abroad.
Foundation President Scott noted that recruitment of
educational personnel may be a possible area of collaboration
between the Department of Education and the CBCF. The
Ministry is also looking at ways to attract more black
students to vocational training and to achieve gender parity
in areas such as science and math. The Minister mentioned
the role that South Africa is playing as a regional leader in
Africa, suggesting that the United States may be able to
support South Africa through trilateral partnerships.
Representative Lee invited the Minister to come to Washington
to meet with historically black college and university
presidents and exchange lessons learned.

4. (U) The Delegation met briefly with Archbishop Tutu in a
rare meeting at the Embassy. The Archbishop was in Pretoria
delivering a WAD speech in which he called for enhanced

PRETORIA 00004244 002 OF 002


public leadership to fight the epidemic. Representative Lee
had met the Archbishop during his prior travels to the U.S.

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World AIDS Day Activities
-------------------------

5. (U) The Delegation took part in many WAD Activities.
During these events, Congresswoman Lee chronicled her
intensive involvement in writing the initial PEPFAR
legislation and both Congresswomen emphasized their
commitment to increase funding for the PEPFAR program and to
eliminate earmarks and limitations on it. They highlighted
the importance of counseling and testing and were publicly
tested at several sites.

6. (U) WAD activities attended by the delegation included
speaking at a New Start HIV/AIDS testing site in Zola,
Soweto, a public-private partnership with Levi Strauss and
PEPFAR. This is part of Levi's Red for Life Initiative that
attracts youth to counseling and testing with concerts and
musicians. The Congresswomen led by example by getting
tested publicly and were impressed with New Start's very
thorough pre-and post-test counseling as well as the site's
enhanced efforts for confidentiality. The Congresswomen also
spoke at a breakfast of the Global Business Coalition on
HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Johannesburg, at which
Ambassador Bost delivered the keynote speech. Later, the
delegation had a lively exchange about HIV and AIDS with a
group of students at the Embassy's Rosa Parks Library in
Johannesburg.

7. (U) On November 30, the Congresswomen spoke at a WAD
ceremony at the Embassy that was co-sponsored by the
Diplomatic Association of Pretoria. The podium was set
against the backdrop of an American flag encircled by a
mammoth red AIDS ribbon almost as high as the building
itself. The event included a mobile testing facility and
encouraged the diplomatic community to lead by example. The
Congesswomen were once again publicly tested.

8. (U) The Delegation also met with Johnson & Johnson
executives and visited several Johnson & Johnson sponsored
sites. These included visits to the Burn Center and HIV
Support Unit at the Chris Hani Baragwaneth Hospital in
Johannesburg and travel to Limpopo Province to attend a
Humana Person-to-Person, Total Control of the Epidemic (TCE)
Program for World AIDS Day. Although this particular project
is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, PEPFAR funds other TCE
locations.

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Comment
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9. (SBU) The Delegation was well-received by the SAG, meeting
with two Ministers and receiving an initial positive response
from the Minister of Trade and Industry, although scheduling
conflicts prevented that meeting from taking place. This
reception was significantly warmer than normally extended to
visiting delegations. This is likely due to CBCF support of
the ANC during apartheid and the CBCF's traditional focus on
public health, leadership education and economic development
issues.
BOST

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