Cablegate: Codel Berman Calls On Officials and Visits Pepfar

DE RUEHSA #1810/01 2280708
O 150708Z AUG 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

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This is the first of three cables reporting on CODEL Berman's
July 1-6, 2008 visit to South Africa. The second cable
reports on the CODEL's meeting with Deputy Minister of
Foreign Affairs Aziz Pahad. The third cable reports on the
CODEL's meeting with Zimbabwean opposition leaders. The
cable is sensitive but unclassified. Not for Internet

1. (SBU) Summary. CODEL Berman completed an extensive visit
to South Africa, July 1-6, 2008. In Cape Town, the
delegation visited the Port of Cape Town to learn about trade
and port security issues and met with a major supermarket
chain CEO to hear about his pioneering efforts to promote
black ownership in the retail sector. In Pretoria, the CODEL
participated in a Country Team briefing with Ambassador Bost,
attended the Embassy's annual Fourth of July event, met with
Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad to discuss Zimbabwe and
South African domestic issues and interacted with a group of
Zimbabwean opposition leaders. In Johannesburg, the
delegation visited the PEPFAR-supported Themba Lethu Clinic
to review treatment for HIV/AIDS patients, toured the
AGOA-benefited Issy Petite designs Factory to understand how
South African manufactured exports enter the U.S. market, and
laid a wreath at the Hector Pieterson Museum in honor of
those who fell during the anti-apartheid struggle. In White
River, the CODEL visited the ACTS Community Clinic to review
treatment for HIV/AIDS patients in a rural setting and
conducted an interview with Talk Radio 702, South Africa's
most influential radio station. CODEL Berman was able to
meet with a wide variety of South African public and private
sector officials during this visit. The U.S. Embassy thanks
CODEL Berman for creating the opportunity and working with
the press to get this positive message to the South African
public. End Summary.

2. (U) CODEL Berman completed an extensive, one-week visit
to South Africa, visiting the cities of Cape Town, Pretoria,
Johannesburg and White River, July 1-6, 2008. The delegation
was headed by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard
Berman (D-CA) and included House Education and Labor
Committee Chairman George Miller (D-CA), Foreign Affairs
Committee Ranking Member Ed Royce (R-CA), House Government
Reform and Oversight Committee Ranking Member Thomas Davis
(R-VA), Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA), Congressman Donald M.
Payne (D-NJ), and Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (D-CA).

Cape Town, July 1-2

3. (SBU) Port of Cape Town Visit. CODEL Berman called on
state transportation company Transnet headquarters in the
port of Cape Town on July 2. Transnet Port of Cape Town Port
Captain/Harbor Master Ravi Naicker, Assistant Port
Captain/Assistant Harbor Manster Carl Otto, Marketing Manager
Selma Schwartz and Infrastructure Manager Magentran
Rughenavelu provided a comprehensive presentation on the port
and its infrastructure. The CODEL members raised questions
about the types of trade handled by the port, port security
Qabout the types of trade handled by the port, port security
measures, and security screening of inbound vessels. The
Transnet officials explained how the harbor works, which
international protocols they follow, and how they interact
with other agencies, particularly the intelligence agencies,
in identifying and investigating suspicious activities. Each
ship requesting any harbor services must do so in writing
several days in advance. Transnet then shares the requests
with various government entities which have the opportunity
to alert the harbor officials if there is any reason to
believe that the ship might be carrying contraband. Only a
small number of containers in Cape Town get checked. The
Port of Durban has the technical ability to x-ray containers,
but the Port of Cape Town does not. The Transnet officials
also expressed a desire to expand operations in the Port of
Cape Town, but can do so only by reclaiming more land from
the sea. This potential reclamation is restrained by legal
uncertainty about the ownership of any land that would be

4. (SBU) CODEL Berman then traveled to Stellenbosch to have

PRETORIA 00001810 002.2 OF 004

dinner with Shop-Rite CEO Whitey Basson. Shop-Rite is one of
South Africa's four major supermarket chains and Basson has
been a pioneer in promoting black ownership in the retail
sector. The CODEL members asked Basson about his pioneering
efforts and Basson described some of his major
accomplishments and obstacles.

5. (SBU) Chairman Berman also had a separate meeting with
South African Jewish Board of Deputies Chairman Michael
Bagraim and other board members and Jewish leaders at the
offices of the Jewish Board of Deputies on July 2. Chairman
Berman said he and his delegation were interested in gauging
the impact of the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS
Relief (PEPFAR) and their attitudes towards Israel. Chairman
Berman said he had begun working on anti-apartheid issues in
Congress in 1983 and noted that many South African Jews had
been prominent in the struggle against apartheid. Bagraim
described the South African Jewish community and Chairman
Berman fielded questions from the assembled group about Iraq,
Iran, HIV/AIDS, Zimbabwe and the U.S. presidential election.
Chairman Berman also toured the Cape Town Holocaust Centre.

Pretoria, July 3

6. (SBU) Country Team Briefing. Ambassador Bost, then
Deputy Chief of Mission Teitelbaum and the full Embassy
Country Team briefed the CODEL on the morning of July 3 on a
variety of political, economic, agricultural, and health
issues. Members of the Health Task Force (OIH, USAID, CDC,
Peace Corps and DAO) had the opportunity to discuss the
Embassy's expanding USD 592 million PEPFAR program. The
Health Attache noted that as of July there were now 500,000
South Africans on ARV treatment, up from half that number
just two years ago. The Political Counselor responded to
questions about the political and economic crisis in
Zimbabwe, what the Zimbabwean opposition wants from the U.S.,
and the impact of millions of undocumented Zimbabweans living
in South Africa. The Agricultural Counselor responded to
questions about the regional food shortage and the potential
export of South Africa's corn surplus to Zimbabwe. He noted
that the main issue is not food production, but cost of food
for the average citizen. The Economic and Commercial
Counselors discussed South Africa's power crisis and the
Embassy's efforts to support U.S. company Westinghouse in its
USD 70 billion bid to build up to 12 AP1000 nuclear reactors
in South Africa by 2025.

7. (U) Fourth of July Event. The CODEL attended Embassy
Pretoria's Fourth of July event at the Community Center at
mid-day on July 3. The event was attended by 500 public and
private sector guests, including Foreign Affairs Deputy
Minister Sue van der Merwe. Deputy Minister van der Merwe
and Ambassador Bost both spoke about the strength of the
bilateral relationship. Chairman Berman was invited to
address the assembled guests. He introduced the members of
the delegation, mentioned their prior visits to South Africa,
and noted how hard they had worked on PEPFAR. Chairman
Qand noted how hard they had worked on PEPFAR. Chairman
Berman met with South African Institute of International
Affairs (SAIIA) Deputy Chairman Moeletsi Mbeki (the brother
of South African President Thabo Mbeki).

8. (SBU) Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister. The CODEL called
on Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad on the
afternoon on July 3. Deputy Minister Pahad thanked the CODEL
for visiting South Africa and expressed appreciation for
congressional support for funding to combat HIV/AIDS and for
legislation to remove anti-apartheid activists from the U.S.
terrorist list. Pahad strongly defended South Africa's
policy toward Zimbabwe and urged the CODEL to support the
African Union's call for a government of national unity,
which Pahad claimed was "the only way out of the Zimbabwe
crisis." He explained that South Africa is focused on
facilitating dialogue between the ruling ZANU-PF and the
opposition MDC and believes calls for new mediators and
expansion of smart sanctions are not helpful. Turning to
domestic issues, Pahad said the recent shift in ANC
leadership was "healthy," but admitted that in his view the

PRETORIA 00001810 003.2 OF 004

sweeping changes in the party had come "too soon". Pahad
concluded that the South African government was doing its
best to confront the country's many challenges, many of which
had been inherited from the previous regime. A brief
television interview with the delegation after the meeting
was covered by local television stations. (See septel for
additional details.)

9. (SBU) Zimbabwe Opposition Leaders. Senior officials of
the Zimbabwean opposition party Movement for Democratic
Change hosted the CODEL on the evening of July 3. The
officials told the delegation that the Zimbabwean June 27
run-off election was a farce, Mugabe's presidential claim was
illegitimate, and a Transitional Authority - not a Government
of National Unity - was needed to prepare the way out of the
Zimbabwean political crisis via new elections in the next 18
months. They decried the recent trend in Africa which allows
a loser who is prone to the use of violence to negotiate a
power sharing agreement. They also expressed a complete lack
of faith in South Africa's mediation effort and the ability
of the AU and the Southern African Development Community to
solve the crisis. They expressed hope that the UNSC could do
more and asked for pressure from the U.S. and the
international community to insist that the outcome of new
elections in Zimbabwe "reflects the will of the people."
(See septel for additional background.)

Johannesburg, July 4

10. (U) Helen Joseph Hospital. The CODEL visited the
PEPFAR-supported Themba Lethu ARV Clinic and Right to Care
treatment facility at the government-funded Helen Joseph
Hospital in Johannesburg. The clinic is one of the first ARV
clinics in the country and it is a center for excellence in
the health area. It has more patients on Antiretroviral
Therapy (ART) than any clinic in the country. Right to Care
Country Director Ian Sanne provided a briefing on Right to
Care's six country-wide models for ARV distribution. He also
highlighted the integration of different agency/NGO efforts
(USAID/NIH/Right to Care) at the same site, the integration
of different treatments (VCT, ARV distribution and TB
testing), and the importance of South African Government
funding for the clinic's efforts (79 percent of total
funding). An indigenous choir warmly welcomed the CODEL, and
two HIV/AIDS patients who are now employed as health workers
by Right to Care told their life stories and thanked the
delegation for U.S. funding and technical support. CNBC
Africa covered the visit and broadcast the segment across
sub-Saharan Africa.

11. (U) Issy Petite Designs Factory. The delegation toured
the Issy Petite Designs Factory in Industria, a formerly
"colored" township north of Soweto. Issy is a rapidly
growing, previously disadvantaged people-owned business that
designs and manufactures high-end furniture for domestic and
international customers. Issy has a second factory in
Nigeria, is in the process of establishing a second factory
in Angola and plans to open a show-room in Dubai. Issy also
Qin Angola and plans to open a show-room in Dubai. Issy also
benefits from duty-free exports to the U.S. market as a
result of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
Issy Managing Director Issy Penniken explained to the CODEL
how USAID's South Africa Business Linkage (SAIBL) Program has
helped the company make strategic business and marketing
improvements, attend international exhibitions, achieve
high-quality accreditation and benefit from AGOA. He thanked
the CODEL for U.S. technical support and access to the market
and said, "If it had not been for U.S. technical support, I
would not be where I am today."

12. (U) Hector Pieterson Museum. The CODEL visited the
Hector Pieterson Museum and laid a wreath at the memorial
site for those who fell during the struggle against
apartheid. Antoinette Sithole, the sister of slain Hector
Pieterson, told the delegation how he died and gave her
eye-witness account of his death. The Sowetan, a
influential, Afro-centric newspaper with a circulation of
more than 150,000, interviewed Chairman Berman after the

PRETORIA 00001810 004.2 OF 004

wreath-laying. The article, which appeared on July 7, quoted
the Chairman's comments about the struggle and mentioned his
work sponsoring the new bill that removed Nelson Mandela and
other ANC members from the list of terrorists.

White River, July 4

13. (U) ACTS Community Clinic. The delegation visited the
AIDS Care, Training and Support (ACTS) Community Clinic near
White River, in Mpumalanga Province. The first NGO treatment
site, supported by Right to Care, the ACTS Community Center
is focused on the effective delivery of ART in a rural
community where there is no government hospital present.
Right to Care Country Director Dr. Ian Sanne provided a tour
of the facility which included a CDC Togatainer site. The
CDC Togatainer site represents CDC's efforts to locate
modular molecular and general pathology laboratories in
converted shipping containers for on-the-spot testing at
existing clinics in rural areas. Dr. Sanne again highlighted
the integration of different agency/NGO efforts
(USAID/CDC/Right to Care) at the same site, the integration
of different treatments. Chairman Berman also dedicated a
newly completed pharmacy. A local youth choir welcomed the
CODEL and the delegation members were given the opportunity
to interact with ARV patients.

14. (U) Talk Radio 702. Chairman Berman and Congressman
Payne then conducted a live telephone interview with Stephen
Grootes, a reporter for Talk Radio 702, South Africa's most
influential radio station which targets an estimated 300,000
urban commuters during the rush hour on their way to and from
work. Grootes spoke to Chairman Berman about the recent
passage of legislation which will remove anti-apartheid
activists from the U.S. terrorist list. He then talked with
Congressman Payne about the U.S. Congress' plans to renew and
expand funding for PEPFAR. The interview received broad
coverage that afternoon.

15. (U) State-owned SABC television reported on July 4 that
President Bush signed the law removing Nelson Mandela from
the list of terrorists. The article quoted liberally from
Chairman Berman's press release about the bill that he


16. (U) CODEL Berman was able to meet with a wide variety of
South African public and private sector officials during this
extended visit. The delegation was also able to engage on a
range of regional and bilateral issues, including the
political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe. A series of TV,
radio and newspaper interviews on July 3-4 helped publicize
what the U.S. is doing in and for South Africa, from PEPFAR
and AGOA to the recently passed legislation removing
anti-apartheid activists from the U.S. terrorist list. The
U.S. Embassy thanks CODEL Berman for creating the opportunity
and working with the press to get this positive message to
the South African public.

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