R 290701Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY MASERU
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 3965
INFO SADC COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS MASERU 000389
DEPT FOR AF/S
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL ZI OVIP LT
SUBJECT: A/S FRAZER VISITS THE MOUNTAIN KINGDOM OF LESOTHO
SUMMARY: Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Jendayi E.
Frazer's visit to the mountain kingdom of Lesotho was a brief
and productive journey to the highlands. A/S Frazer arrived in
Maseru mid-afternoon on Friday, December 19, toured one of the
leading garment manufacturing factories operating under the
African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), and met with the
Prime Minister of the government of Lesotho (GOL) before
departing to South Africa to continue her five country trip on
the African continent. End Summary.
Assistant Secretary Frazer visited Lesotho to meet Foreign
Minister Kenneth Mohlabi Tsekoa and Prime Minister Pakalitha
Mosisili, primarily to discuss the continuing crisis in
Zimbabwe. In the initial meeting with Tsekoa , A/S Frazer noted
the strength of bilateral relations, touching on the recently
signed Millennium Challenge Account entry into force agreement
and subsequent developments, the President's Emergency Plan for
AIDS Relief , and the long-standing work of the U.S. Peace
Corps. She delivered the current U.S. policy on Zimbabwe. Mr.
Tsekoa also noted the strength of the U.S.-Lesotho relationship.
He said that Lesotho has taken diplomatic measures to try to
marginalize Zimbabwe in the Southern African Development
Community (SADC), but these efforts have obviously fallen short.
In his opinion, it is extremely unlikely that Zimbabwe's
President Robert Mugabe will submit to international pressure
and step down; he stated that short of a coup, nothing will
remove Mugabe from power. Tsekoa did note that the recent
incidents involving unrest among Zimbabwe's security forces
might be a sign that internal support for Mugabe may be waning.
Prime Minister Mosisili then warmly welcomed A/S Frazer, coming
to the meeting directly from the state funeral of the
Chieftainess of the northern district of Berea who was also a
Senator in the National Assembly. He wore a traditional red
blanket as a sign of respect to the deceased. Mosisili was
clearly delighted to meet A/S Frazer again. He spoke about the
excellent assistance Lesotho has received from the U.S. over
many years and indicated that Lesotho has taken a consistent
approach to the Zimbabwe issue, which had met with serious
disfavor by Mugabe. At the Doha International Conference on
Finance for Development in late November 2008, Mosisili said
that he pointedly asked Mugabe how unelected Zimbabwe government
ministers could represent the people of that country and said
that Mugabe himself did not represent the majority of the
Zimbabwe people. Noting that Lesotho was the former chair of
the Southern African Development Community (SADC), A/S Frazer
requested Mosisili make a telephone call to the current chair of
the African Union, President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, to
press for more firm support from African leaders to remove Mr.
Mugabe from office. Mosisili agreed to do so.
Comment: A/S Frazer's visit to Lesotho to consult on Zimbabwe
is an indication of the strength of the bilateral relationship
and a compliment to this tiny democracy. Mosisili's open
criticism of Mugabe is a much stronger stance than most of the
region has taken, a hopeful sign that the GOL will continue to
align itself with the U.S. to promote democracy, despite
regional pressures to the contrary. End comment.