Friday, February 04, 2011


Passed to the Telegraph by WikiLeaks 9:31PM GMT 31 Jan 2011

Ref ID: 09TRIPOLI588
Date: 7/21/2009 16:01
Origin: Embassy Tripoli
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL

SUBJECT: AU SUMMIT: A/S CARSON'S MEETING WITH BOTSWANA'S VICE PRESIDENT MOMPATI MERAFHE TRIPOLI 00000588 001.2 OF 002 CLASSIFIED BY: Joan Polaschik, Charge d'Affaires, U.S. Embassy Tripoli, Department of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

1.(C) Summary: Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson met with Botswana Vice President (VP) Mompati Merafhe on July 2, 2009 on the margins of the African Union (AU) Summit in Sirte, Libya. The discussion focused on the global financial crisis, recent accomplishments made by the Government of Botswana (GOB) in the agricultural sector, the new USG global food security initiative, and political leadership in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Madagascar. End Summary.

BOTSWANA STRUGGLES DURING GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS --------------------------------------------- ----

2.(C) VP Merafhe asked the Assistant Secretary for his opinion on the state of the global financial crisis and economy. Carson expressed his belief that the recession in the United States was close to bottoming out and could settle sometime between June-September next year. However, U.S. employment, housing, and auto industry figures all continue to indicate a slump.

3.(C) VP Merafhe noted that Botswana was "struggling" as a result of the global recession, citing high-end tourism and the diamond industry as particularly hard hit. As part of a larger effort to save jobs in the industry, Botswana has had to close one diamond mine due to decreased sales and lower prices. The GOB is also in the process of concluding establishment of a diamond trading consortium including DeBeers, Anglo America, and Namibia that would, once complete, consolidate 30% of global diamond trade in Botswana. The GOB will hold an 80% stake under the partnership.

4.(C) Merafhe also discussed the GOB's decision to run a budget deficit through which government spending would be used to stimulate the economy (Note: the African Development Bank [ADB] recently approved a loan of USD $1.5 billion in Botswana, marking the first such debt that Botswana had accrued in over 17 years. End Note.)

AGRICULTURAL SECTOR REFORM A HIGH PRIORITY ------------------------------------------

5.(C) VP Merafhe explained that the GOB has more than doubled sorghum production in the last year, increasing yields from 43,000 metric tons to 93,000 metric tons using a locally developed model that could be replicated in other countries. Ensuring the sustainability of agricultural sector investment and the accomplishments that have been achieved, is a high priority for the GOB, Merafhe continued.

6.(C) Carson noted that the USG was in the process of launching a new, global food security initiative in which Africa would be featured prominently. In particular, USG agricultural assistance funding will double to $1 billion during FY2010, with an approximate total of $3.5 billion provided by the USG within the next three years. Carson explained that host country partnership, innovation, and ownership of planned agricultural sector interventions are USG priorities in its approach to implementing the new initiative.

ENERGY PRODUCTION: SEEKING SELF-SUFFICIENCY -------------------------------------------

7.(C) Carson asked about the status of coal production and energy resources in Botswana. Merafhe noted that the GOB was working to harness Botswana's overall energy resources to achieve self-sufficiency, and that China will enter the market to help Botswana further exploit its coal production capabilities. There are no plans, at present, to develop wind or solar energy resources.

DOMESTIC POLITICS -----------------

8.(C) When asked about domestic politics, Merafhe said he was confident about the prospects for his party in upcoming national elections to be held in October, noting that under the GOB system the president is not directly elected but instead chosen by the political party with the highest number of seats in Parliament. Merafhe does not expect new opposition candidates TRIPOLI 00000588 002.2 OF 002 to enter the election campaign.

VP MERAFHE: SOUTH AFRICA'S ZUMA IS "INTERNALLY FOCUSED" --------------------------------------------- ---------

9.(C) Moving to regional issues, A/S Carson asked the Vice President for his impression on the recent election of Jacob Zuma in South Africa. Merafhe said it was too early to tell, but the initial indications suggested that Zuma appeared to be "internally focused." Merafhe also noted that he had no prior knowledge of, or contact with, the new South African Minister of Foreign Affairs but that she appeared to be solid

ZIMBABWE --------

10.(C) xxxxxxxxxxxx A/S Carson noted that POTUS saw Zimbabwe Prime Minister Tsvangirai during his recent travel to Washington, and said that helping the Prime Minister without aiding Mugabe will be a challenge. A/S Carson also said that the USG would remain engaged in Zimbabwe and continue to channel foreign assistance in support of the people of Zimbabwe through non-governmental organizations. USG support for humanitarian assistance, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, and democracy and governance programs in Zimbabwe will all continue under the USG foreign assistance program. Agricultural sector inputs and education programming are also anticipated as new USG foreign assistance components. 11.(C) A/S Carson asked if SADC would increase pressure on Zimbabwe for Mugabe to exit. xxxxxxxxxxxx

MADAGASCAR: WAY FORWARD REMAINS UNCLEAR ---------------------------------------

12.(C) VP Merafhe said that Madagascar was also a "nasty situation." A/S Carson noted that the AU will repeat efforts to assemble the four political parties in Madagascar in an effort to proceed with presidential elections and restore constitutional governance. A/S Carson noted that Rajoelina is presently too young to secure the presidency under the Malagasy constitution and that the overall way forward in resolving the political impasse in Madagascar was still not clear. POLASCHIK

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