Botswana’s Finance Minister Baledzi Gaolathe pleaded with the United States to support Simba Makoni’s candidacy for president of the African Development Bank because he was the best qualified candidate.
He argued that Makoni should be acceptable to the United States for both political and economic reasons because he had left the government of Zimbabwe because he could not go along with the status quo.
Gaolathe said Makoni had been endorsed by the Southern African Development Community because he was considered a citizen of SADC rather than a member of the government of Zimbabwe.
The US therefore had to look at Makoni as an individual rather than as President Robert Mugabe’s pick.
United States ambassador to Botswana Joseph Huggins told the minister that the government’s active support of Makoni undermined the suggestion that he was truly independent of the Mugabe regime.
Gaolathe argued that refusing to support the SADC consensus candidate because of its objections to poor governance in Zimbabwe constituted “collective punishment” for the misdeeds of one and was, therefore, “unfair”.
Viewing cable 05GABORONE479, SADC SEEKS US SUPPORT FOR ADB CANDIDATE
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
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FM AMEMBASSY GABORONE
TO DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
SECSTATE WASHDC 1921
INFO SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
C O N F I D E N T I A L GABORONE 000479
DEPT FOR AF/S DIFFILY, DEPT PLEASE PASS TO TREASURY
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/03/2015
SUBJECT: SADC SEEKS US SUPPORT FOR ADB CANDIDATE
Classified By: AMBASSADOR HUGGINS FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D)
¶1. (C) Summary: Minister of Finance and Development
Planning Baledzi Gaolathe requested a meeting with Ambassador
Huggins on April 4 to lobby for United States support for Dr.
Simba Makoni as the Southern African Development Community’s
(SADC) candidate for the presidency of the African
Development Bank (ADB). He argued that Dr. Makoni should be
acceptable to the US for professional and political reasons,
given that he left the Government of Zimbabwe because “he
could not go along with the status quo” there. Minister
Gaolathe pleaded that the US not punish the rest of SADC for
the problems in Zimbabwe. The Ambassador promised to
communicate SADC’s message to the Departments of State and
Treasury but advised Gaolathe that it would be difficult for
the US to reward the Mugabe regime after the March 31
elections that confirmed the Government of Zimbabwe’s refusal
to respect human rights and democratic principles. End
MAKONI PROFESSIONALLY AND POLITICALLY QUALIFIED?
¶2. (C) After a competitive review process, the SADC Council
of Ministers settled on Dr. Simba Makoni as the best
qualified candidate to stand for the Presidency of the
African Development Bank, Minister Gaolathe explained.
Botswana had been tasked to reach out to a number of Western
countries, including the US, UK, and Switzerland, to seek
support for Dr. Makoni. Given his experience in government
and the private sector, including stints as Executive
Secretary of SADC and Minister of Finance in Zimbabwe, SADC
was confident of Dr. Makoni’s professional credentials. The
organization did not choose Dr. Makoni on the basis of his
connection with the Government of Zimbabwe, he asserted, but
regarded him as a “citizen of SADC”.
¶3. (C) Minister Gaolathe recognized that Dr. Makoni had been
among some senior Zimbabwean officials whose travel to
Western countries had been restricted as a means of
pressuring Harare to improve its governance. He pointed out,
however, that Dr. Makoni had left the Government of Zimbabwe
because “he could not go along with the status quo” there.
The Minister suggested that if critics of the Mugabe regime
did not support individuals such as Dr. Makoni, others like
him might not have the courage to follow his example.
SADC: VIEW MAKONI AS AN INDIVIDUAL, NOT A GOZ INSIDER
¶4. (C) Ambassador Huggins observed that, in view of
Zimbabwe’s uncompetitive March 31 election, it would be
difficult for the US to support Dr. Makoni’s candidacy,
especially when Harare would undoubtedly use Dr. Makoni’s
selection to tout the legitimacy of the Mugabe regime.
Minister Gaolathe admitted that many in Botswana and
elsewhere in SADC share our concerns about governance in
Zimbabwe and have voiced them “behind the scenes”. If
elected President of the ADB, Minister Gaolathe continued,
Dr. Makoni would be “completely severed” from the influence
of the Government of Zimbabwe. As a consequence, he argued,
the US should look at Dr. Makoni as an individual, rather
than as Mugabe’s pick. Ambassador Huggins noted that the
GOZ’s active support for Dr. Makoni’s candidacy undermined
the suggestion that he is truly independent of the Mugabe
¶5. (C) Finally, Minister Gaolathe agreed that while US-SADC
relations have been stalled, the US maintains cordial
relations with most members of SADC. Refusing to support the
SADC consensus candidate because of its objections to poor
governance in Zimbabwe, he said, constitutes “collective
punishment” for the misdeeds of one and, therefore, would be
“unfair”. SADC should not be denied the opportunity to put
forward the best qualified individual because he happens to
come from Zimbabwe, Minister Gaolathe concluded.
TEXT OF LETTER TO TREASURY SECRETARY
¶6. (U) Minister Gaolathe passed Ambassador Huggins a letter
to Treasury Secretary Snow formally requesting US support for
Dr. Makoni. The text of that letter follows:
I wish to take this opportunity, Sir, to seek your support
for Dr. Simba Makoni, who has been endorsed by SADC as the
regional candidate. He was chosen as the most suitable among
other candidates considered within the SADC region.
I believe that in selecting the next President of the ADB, we
should look at both the qualifications of the candidates and
also take into account the principle of rotation.
In this regard, I am of the view that our region should, in
the spirit of rotation and sharing of responsibilities, be
given the opportunity to serve our organization.
Dr. Makoni distinguished himself as an outstanding Executive
Secretary of the Southern African Development Community. He
has also accumulated extensive experience as Managing
Director of several companies in the Private Sector and as
Minister in several ministries in the Public Sector. I have
no doubt, therefore, that with his wealth of experience and
management skills, he will provide a dynamic leadership to
our continental organization.
It is my sincere hope that I can count on you to support the
candidature of Dr. Makoni who curriculum vitae I attach for
your consideration. (Note: Dr. Makoni’s CV is seven pages
long and, therefore, is not reproduced in this message. End
Accept, Honourable Minister, the assurances of my highest
consideration and esteem.
Minister of Finance and Development Planning
¶7. (C) SADC’s selection of a former senior official in the
Mugabe regime as its candidate for the ADB Presidency shows a
continued unwillingness to publicly recognize the crisis of
governance in Zimbabwe and a lack of sensitivity to the
importance of respect for human rights and democracy.
Refusal to support Dr. Makoni’s candidacy provides an
opportunity to remind SADC that their failure to address the
situation in Zimbabwe has negative repercussions for the