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Cablegate: Minister of Social Affairs Sacked

VZCZCXRO0634
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #0056 0171551
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O R 171550Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0038
INFO RWANDA COLLECTIVE
SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS KINSHASA 000056

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR KDEM CG
SUBJECT: Minister of Social Affairs Sacked

1. (SBU) Summary: President Kabila issued a decree on January 9
dismissing Minister of Social Affairs, Humanitarian Action and
National Solidarity Barthelemy Botswali for "conducting himself in
a dishonorable manner." There are various rumors floating around
to explain his dismissal, but most center around some kind of
internal dispute (physical and political) within Botswali's party,
the Coalition of Congolese Democrats (CODECO), which is part of the
ruling coalition, the Alliance for the Presidential Majority (AMP).
Most observers welcomed the move, as Botswali had been under
continual suspicion of having embezzled government funds. Although
CODECO has already staked claim to Botswali's portfolio, and
perhaps another ministry, Kabila may bypass CODECO in any
government re-shuffle, which, with four ministerial vacancies,
probably looms on the near-term horizon. End summary.

2. (U) On January 9, Congolese National Radio and Television
(RTNC) announced that President Kabila had dismissed Minister of
Social Affairs, Humanitarian Action and National Solidarity
Barthelemy Botswali for comporting himself in a dishonorable
manner. Botswali is a member of the Coalition of Congolese
Democrats (CODECO), which is in turn part of the ruling coalition,
the Alliance for the Presidential Majority (AMP). CODECO has 27 of
the AMP's 256 deputies in the National Assembly. He was nominated
to this position in October 2008 following the last government
re-shuffle. He was apparently fired as a civil servant during the
Mobutu era. He is ethnic Sakata, a native of the Mai-Ndombe
District in Bandundu Province.

3. (SBU) There are several rumors about the reason for Botswali's
dismissal, with most centering on some kind of dispute within
CODECO. One source claimed that Botswali, who had allegedly been
drinking heavily, became involved in a physical fight at a January
3 meeting of CODECO members in Kinshasa. In a slight twist on this
story, there are rumors that Botswali arrived at the party meeting
with a former girlfriend, the wife of another CODECO member, who
then allegedly attacked Botswali and the woman. Other analysts
noted that Botswali had constantly been at loggerheads with the
CODECO Chairman, Jean-Claude Muyambo, whose ministerial portfolio
Botswali had replaced. The National Assembly summoned Botswali
several times over the past year to respond to questions, most
notably, accusations that he had embezzled humanitarian assistance.
Independent daily Le Potential speculated that Kabila fired
Botswali for tampering with CODECO's electoral list.

4. (SBU) Botswali publicly accepted Kabila's decision, thanking
Kabila for the opportunity to serve in the government and
professing his loyalty to the AMP (Comment: Botswali must try to
remain in the AMP's good favor to try to avoid any embezzlement
investigations. End comment). Many observers/press praised the
decision to get rid of Botswali, who was constantly dogged by
charges of mismanagement and embezzlement. Under the headline
"Joseph Kabila Should Go Further," Le Potential editorialized that
Botswali's behavior embodied the "scorn for ethics that
characterizes certain cabinet ministers, deputies, and parastatal
administrators."

5. (SBU) Comment: Botswali's dismissal was a positive step, which
could serve as a small opening to emphasize the GDRC's commitment
to fight corruption. With his resignation, there are now four
ministerial portfolios vacant (Social Affairs, Economy, Relations
with Parliament, and Scientific Research). This will most likely
give additional impetus to the prospect of a much-awaited
government re-shuffle. Although CODECO is an important piece of
the AMP jigsaw puzzle and CODECO leaders have already staked claim
to a least one ministry, it is not certain that one of its members
will replace Botswali. Kabila may use his dismissal as a pretext
for filling the slot with a member of the former rebel group, the
National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP). End
comment.
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