A Wiki leaks cable just released shows that the British Government did not expect president Banda to be as progressive as his late predecessor Levy Mwanawasa.
The cable created on October 22, 2008 and sent by FCO Head of Southern Africa Section Sarah Riley to the USA says UK had expected president Banda to follow Mwanawasa’ s legacy.
“HMG will encourage newly elected President Banda to follow former President Levy Mwanawasa’s legacy. While HMG does not expect Banda to be as progressive as Mwanawasa, there is “no reason to think he will be a disaster,” according to Riley,” reads the cable which is part of the comments on the Southern African Development Community Collective priority by UK.
The cable also said HMG priorities in Zambia remained good governance and anti-corruption.
The cable also reveals comments on several SADC countries on several issues.
Below are some of the comments.
1. (C) From a November 7 round up of UK policy and priorities in Southern Africa, imposing new visa requirements may cause some tension in the region for the UK, according to FCO Head of Southern Africa Section Sarah Riley. The UK Borders Agency is reviewing its visa regimes on South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana, and Mauritius, and initial results indicate that HMG may require visas for citizens from these countries, possibly as early as January 2009 when the UK Borders Agency finishes its assessment. HMG anticipates that new visa requirements may cause some diplomatic tensions, especially with South Africa (reftel A). Country-by-country comments follow.
¶2. (C) The UK maintains its legal sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago (which includes the island of Diego Garcia), although the Government of Mauritius continues to challenge it. An October 22 ruling by the House of Lords’ Law Lords (the UK’s highest court) overturned a previous High Court ruling that ordered HMG to return and resettle residents of the Chagos islands forcibly removed in the 1970’s when the UK first allowed the USG to open a military base on the archipelago’s largest island, Diego Garcia. Riley said that since the October 22 ruling, the Government of Mauritius (GOM) has formally requested to re-start a dialogue to acquire the islands. HMG will open a dialogue with the GOM to discuss fishing rights and other natural resource issues, but will not discuss the issue of sovereignty, as HMG “has no question about its legal ownership of the islands” (reftel B).
South Africa ————
¶3. (C) HMG is watching South Africa “very closely,” according to Riley. There is genuine concern that the ANC’s continuing factionalization could cause violence in the run-up to and during next year’s elections, especially in the wake of the xenophobic tensions and the global economic downturn. Riley, however, noted that the ANC had a “very mature response” during the South African Democratic Congress’ recent convention. The ANC leadership “attacked it politically” by holding its own rallies. Riley said peace during the elections will likely depend on ANC Chair Zuma’s ability to keep the party’s youth league in check.
¶4. (C) Riley described Zuma’s relationship with the UK as “neither good nor bad.” HMG is working to establish closer contacts in Zuma’s circle of advisors, as most have been with political leaders who were exiled during the apartheid era. HMG, according to Riley, needs to shift its focus on the new generation of political leaders in South Africa, those that were not exiled and who struggled from within. She said that the crisis in Zimbabwe and South Africa’s often “unhelpful” positions in the United Nations continue to complicate the HMG-South Africa relationship.
Botswana (C) President Khama will make his first official visit to the UK at end of November during a guest of government visit. Khama will meet with the Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary, FCO Minister for Africa, and other key government officials. Riley said HMG has not established any deliverables for the visit, but wanted to make sure that the “good guys” in Africa are getting the attention they deserve. Riley termed Khama’s refusal to do media while in the UK “a missed opportunity, as he is a progressive voice in Africa.”
Zambia — (C) HMG will encourage newly elected President Banda to follow former President Levy Mwanawasa’s legacy. While HMG does not expect Banda to be as progressive as Mwanawasa, there is “no reason to think he will be a disaster,” according to Riley. HMG priorities in Zambia remain good governance and anti-corruption. Angola
¶Angola. (C) On the recent local elections in Angola, Riley said they were “far from free and fair, but a step in the right direction.” They were peaceful and the opposition used the appropriate legal means to challenge them. For the presidential elections next year, HMG will be pushing for the Government of Angola to set the date and improve the administration of the electoral process as well as open the media up to the opposition. The UK is pushing for EU Elections Observers to monitor the 2009 presidential polls, and HMG anticipates Portuguese support as well.
Madagascar —. (C) HMG plans to open a British Interests Section based in the Germany Embassy with one local staff member, after the closure of the UK Embassy in 2005. The British High Commissioner in Mauritius and his staff will continue to formally cover Madagascar. Riley noted that Madagascar, after making English the third official language, has requested membership in the Commonwealth, which HMG supports. Riley said HMG interprets both acts as a Malagasy attempt to “stick it to the French.”
Malawi ——(C/NF) HMG is monitoring electoral registration and plans to put consistent pressure on the Government of Malawi to keep the electoral process on track. Riley noted that Jack McConnell, formerly tipped to be HMG’s first political appointee Ambassador to Malawi, has been appointed the Prime Minister’s Special Advisor on Conflict Resolution Mechanisms. She said internal Foreign Office thinking was that the Labor Government probably did not want to contest another by-election in a Scottish constituency (the third this year), which would have been required upon McConnell’s appointment. She also noted that 100 percent of the devolved Scottish Executive’s foreign assistance budget goes to Malawi. (NOTE: Missionaries from the Scottish Presbyterian church have a long history with Malawi and have successfully pressured the UK Government to make Malawi one of HMG’s top development programs in Africa. END NOTE.)
Seychelles — (C) HMG supports the IMF program for Seychelles, especially as the global economic downturn will likely have a negative effect on the country’s tourism. HMG, however, does not support additional debt relief programs, according to Riley, as the “IMF program is the best way to go.”
Namibia, Mozambique, and Tanzania ———————————
¶11. (C) Riley noted that these countries were more or less on the “right trajectory.” She said HMG hopes Tanzania will come out more forth rightly in