Viewing cable 09LUSAKA489
Title: COMESA LEADERS REFLECT ON REGIONAL ISSUES

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
09LUSAKA4892009-07-13 14:10:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Lusaka
VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLS #0489/01 1941410
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 131410Z JUL 09
FM AMEMBASSY LUSAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7140
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
C O N F I D E N T I A L LUSAKA 000489 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/12/2019 
TAGS: PREL XA ZU XW
SUBJECT: COMESA LEADERS REFLECT ON REGIONAL ISSUES 
 
REF: LUSAKA 426 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Donald Booth for Reasons 1.4(b) and (d). 
 
¶1.  (C) Summary.  During a July 6 meeting with Ambassador 
Booth, Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya provided some 
insights on the recently concluded African Union (AU) and 
Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) 
summits.  He clarified the AU position on the International 
Criminal Court (ICC) indictment of Sudanese President Bashir, 
discussed the improbability of COMESA-led military 
intervention in Madagascar, and reflected on Mugabe's conduct 
during the COMESA meetings in Victoria Falls.  He relayed 
Zimbabwean President Mugabe's suggestion that he would step 
down from office in the near future.  Ngwenya provided August 
31, 2010, as a tentative date for the next COMESA summit in 
Mbabane.  He also conveyed Congolese President Kabila's 
concerns about DR Congo's capacity to host a Southern African 
Development Community (SADC) summit in 2009.  The Ambassador 
and Ngwenya also discussed a host of other issues related to 
bilateral trade and investment as well as areas for 
U.S.-COMESA engagement (reported septel).  End Summary. 
 
African Union Summit 
 
¶2.  (C) Ngwenya, who attended the recent AU summit, described 
the meetings as a success, noting that with so many member 
countries it is remarkable that the AU leaders managed to 
agree on anything at all.  In his view, the noteworthy 
outcomes included expanding the AU's mandate to include 
multilateral trade negotiations as well as regional defense 
issues.  Ngwenya said that numerous African delegates were 
keen to establish a single AU military force, rather than a 
United Nations-type arrangement consisting of distinct 
African troops participating under the AU flag.  Ngwenya said 
the African leaders devoted much discussion to agricultural 
growth and food security.  Regarding the International 
Criminal Court (ICC) indictment of Bashir, Ngwenya clarified 
that the AU does not oppose the principal of an ICC trial, 
but calls for a 12-month moratorium, pending Sudanese peace 
talks.  He said that Botswana had never sought the floor to 
speak on the AU position vis-a-vis the AU indictment of 
Bashir and was thus surprised by GOB public statements 
post-summit. 
 
COMESA Summit 
 
¶3.  (C) Despite the COMESA Authority's ardent attention to 
Madagascar during the June COMESA summit (reftel) and 
Al-Bashir's defiant remarks during the closing session, 
Ngwenya argued that economic issues dominated the greater 
part of the agenda and insisted that COMESA does not intend 
to expand its role in regional political and security issues. 
 However, he opined that governance systems are still fragile 
within the region and Africa is about to enter a phase of 
increased regional instability due to international and 
intra-national conflicts.  According to Ngwenya, COMESA heads 
of state had opted against a military intervention in 
Madagascar on the basis that COMESA members are already 
addressing security issues in Somalia and on the assumption 
that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is 
better poised to address the issue.  Ngwenya acknowledged the 
difficulty of arriving at a joint COMESA position on 
Madagascar, particularly given Qadhafi's invitation to 
Rajoelina to make a state visit (an invitation that he said 
Senegal had also extended). 
 
¶4.  (C) Ngwenya expressed some satisfaction at Mugabe's 
"relaxed" demeanor during the COMESA summit in Zimbabwe 
(during which Mugabe took up the COMESA Authority chair). 
Instead of lashing out at the international community, as he 
had done at previous summits, Mugabe maintained surprisingly 
officious and even-tempered conduct throughout the meetings. 
(At one point, Mugabe described Victoria Falls as the ideal 
location for launching the customs union because it is a 
"place for lovers.")  Ngwenya attributed Mugabe's good 
behavior primarily to the Zimbabwean leader's contentment 
with the government of national unity and the easing up of 
domestic political pressures.  Ngwenya opined that Mugabe, 
because he no longer feels cornered, is responding more 
rationally to matters at hand.  He also noted that Mugabe had 
commented during one of the closed door meetings that he 
intends to step down from office soon in order to leave the 
political arena open to the "new generation." 
 
SADC Summit 
 
¶5.  (C) Ngwenya said that the next COMESA summit will be held 
in Mbabane from August 31 - September 1, 2010 at which point 
King Mswati III will take on the COMESA Authority 
chairmanship.  Although these dates appear to conflict with 
SADC's annual heads of state meetings ("SADC Ordinary Summit 
of Heads of State"), Ngwenya said that President Kabila, who 
was slated to assume the SADC chair in August 2009, conveyed 
to him that DR Congo is ill prepared to host a SADC summit 
this year, let alone to begin evaluating the timing for a 
2010 SADC event.  According to Ngwenya, Kabila recommended 
that COMESA go ahead with an August summit and SADC 
subsequently "will work around it."  Note:  If the COMESA 
Authority convenes on August 31, technical level meetings, 
ministerials, and the business forum may commence in Mbabane 
as early as August 21. 
 
BOOTH