This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 PARIS 009130
EUCOM FOR POLAD SNELL
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/25/2014 TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM AO BC LT MI MZ WA SF WZ ZA ZI ZU XA FR SUBJECT: FRANCE AND SOUTHERN AFRICA
Classified By: Political Counselor Josiah Rosenblatt for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. (C) SUMMARY: This is the first of several messages reviewing France's relations with Africa. The southern African region currently attracts less French attention than any other region of Africa. With no francophone countries, and only one country currently engaged in conflict (Angola, at much lower levels than in the past), the region is not central to France's political interests and its engagements are relatively limited. The GOF's problems with Angola over a judicial investigation into arms trafficking, however, have created political difficulties and may have repercussions for French petroleum interests. High-level contacts between France and South Africa have increased in recent years and, as currently demonstrated in Cote d'Ivoire, Presidents Chirac and Mbeki have established a dialogue on crisis resolution. END SUMMARY.
2. (C) Since the death of Jonas Savimbi in February 2002, France has not had to contend with Angolan complaints about French support, particularly from the politicians on the right of the political spectrum such as former Defense Minister Leotard, for UNITA. Similarly, we have seen no recent public claims by Angola of French support for the FLEC (Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda). According to the MFA, many FLEC leaders are in Paris, and Daniel Antonio Rosa, a member of the Angolan intelligence service working from the Angolan Embassy, is charged with monitoring their activities, occasionally meeting with them to "buy them off."
3. (C) However, the judicial investigation into the affairs of French businessman Pierre Falcone, allegedly involved in supplying arms to Angola in 1993-94 in violation of the 1991 Bicesse Agreement between the GRA and UNITA, continues to complicate Franco/Angolan relations, with press reports of Angolan threats to French petroleum interests. According to the MFA, the traffic in arms was not in itself illegal, but Falcone and others implicated in the "Angolagate" affair failed to comply with a law dating from 1939 (resulting from arms trafficking during the Spanish Civil War), requiring French nationals to report such activities to the government.
4. (C) Apparently unreceptive to, or uncomprehending of, French explanations of division of powers between Executive and Judicial branches, the GRA decided during the summer of 2003 to name Falcone as an Angolan diplomat accredited to UNESCO in Paris. This appointment followed the efforts of then French FM de Villepin to secure the support of Angola (then a U.N. Security Council member) to oppose military action in Iraq when, according to press reports (denied by the MFA), Villepin made some rash promises to the Angolans regarding the Falcone affair.
5. (C) Angolan President dos Santos apparently regards Falcone as someone who came to Angola's aid at a time of need. Dos Santos used the 2001 accreditation ceremony for French Ambassador Alain Richard (who had had to wait six months to present his credentials) to blast France for alleged "defamation campaigns affecting the reputation and interests of Angola." Richard's successor, Guy Azais, was subjected to a similar lengthy wait before being able to present his credentials just prior to Ambassador Efird, who had arrived in country only a few days earlier.
6. (C) Presidents Chirac and dos Santos do not have the warm relationship Chirac enjoys with many other long-serving African heads of state, e.g. Eyadema, Bongo and Sassou. Chirac last visited Luanda in July 1998 and, while dos Santos spends vacation time in France, he notably failed to appear in Paris for the February 2003 France/Africa summit, attended by 42 African heads of state or government.
7. (C) In an effort to engage with the GRA, French FM Michel Barnier sent a long letter to FM Miranda in September, again seeking to explain why it was impossible for France to intervene in the Falcone investigation. The GOF hoped to arrange a visit to Luanda by Barnier, and, according to the MFA, Ambassador Azais has made two requests to fix a date. With the Angolans having responded "not now," the MFA says they will not ask a third time.
8. (C) The MFA is dismissive of the reported threats against French petroleum interests, noting that TOTAL works with UK and U.S. companies in Angola, never taking a majority position. Thus, according to the MFA, any GRA action on any oil concession would not only affect TOTAL, but also British Petroleum and Chevron.
9. (C) In 2003, South African President Thabo Mbeki visited France on four occasions. In January, in the presence of UNSYG Annan and numerous African heads of state, President Chirac invited Mbeki to lead the discussions at the Kleber center meeting following the Marcoussis accords for Cote d'Ivoire. Mbeki returned in February for the France/Africa summit and was again present in Evian in June when France hosted the G8 summit. Mbeki then made a state visit to France in November, in part to mark the tenth anniversary of South Africa's transition to democracy.
10. (C) Chirac evidently admires Mbeki's leadership on NEPAD and his willingness to engage on conflict resolution in the DRC, Burundi, the Comoros and, currently, in Cote d'Ivoire. According to our MFA contacts, the relationship between Chirac and Mbeki has helped to dispel mutual mistrust which had existed in the 1970's when black South Africans regarded France as being too indulgent with the apartheid regime, and France had seen South Africa as a rival for regional influence.
11. (C) As with Angola, a judicial investigation, this time in South Africa, has complicated the relationship. The French were irritated by unorthodox initial steps taken by South African justice officials investigating alleged corruption by Vice-President Jacob Zuma relating to missile sales by the French Thales company, but these difficulties were resolved by an agreement on judicial cooperation. According to the MFA, the South African investigation on the Thales-related matter ended in August 2004.
12. (C) The French seem pleased that Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma made an effort to learn French, including by spending three weeks in a total immersion course in France. The polite assessment by MFA officials of her proficiency is "she's not bad," but one contact offered that Zuma can not do much more than ask for a cup of coffee with sugar. Notwithstanding the language barrier, FMs Barnier and Zuma are in almost weekly contact, according to the MFA. We expect the Chirac/Mbeki relationship to continue to deepen, with France and South Africa working together on Cote d'Ivoire and other crises in Africa. Beyond Africa, we also expect Chirac and Mbeki from time to time to coordinate public positions on other issues, such as Iraq, where their views coincide.
13. (C) French views on Zimbabwe differ sharply from our own. Where we see an erosion of the economy, human rights and the rule of law, the GOF compares Zimbabwe with other African states and sees the situation as "not so bad." The elections in Rwanda, in French eyes, were less fair than those in Zimbabwe; the suppression of the media in Cote d'Ivoire, according to the MFA, is worse than in Zimbabwe. Referring to the atrocities committed in Ndebeleland in the mid-eighties "condemned by no-one," an MFA contact told us that there had never been rule of law in Zimbabwe.
14. (C) Our differences over Zimbabwe were highlighted by the French invitation to Robert Mugabe to attend the February 2003 France/Africa summit. Other than Rwandan President Kagame's disavowal of the Chirac-inspired condemnation of military action in Iraq, Chirac's handshake with Mugabe (even a Frenchman wouldn't kiss the Zimbabwean leader) is perhaps the only lasting memory of that affair.
15. (C) Our French contacts, occasionally complaining about the tone of our demarches the issue, told us that not inviting Mugabe would have led to a boycott by other African leaders, possibly even to a north/south or white/black schism. The French view the British as largely responsible for the current situation in Zimbabwe, asserting that British failure to implement the terms of the 1980 Lancaster House agreement led inevitably to Mugabe's land seizures from "a handful of white farmers."
16. (C) The French view the British as obsessed with Mugabe, and vice versa. They see the UK and the U.S. adopting a double standard with regard to Zimbabwe. The French expectation is that ZANU-PF will do the bare minimum to meet the five SADC criteria for elections. If the MDC boycotts, ZANU-PF will be able to claim legitimate victory. If not, according to the MFA, they will do what is necessary to win, but the elections will be no worse than those in neighboring Mozambique, or those elsewhere in Africa which have been accepted, even praised by western nations. The MFA envisions this scenario leading to SADC blessing of the elections as free and fair, making it difficult for the UK or the U.S. to condemn them.
17. (C) Following MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai's visit to France several years ago, MFA contacts described him as unimpressive, and we could elicit no condemnation from French officials regarding the irregularities and excesses orchestrated by the GOZ before, during and after the 2002 elections. With no significant political or economic interests in Zimbabwe, we assess that the French will continue to argue for engagement, rather than isolation of Mugabe and his regime. In particular, the French plan to push the EU to take a set-by-step approach to lifting sanctions in response to anticipated moves by the GOZ. The French recognize that their approach faces stiff opposition from London, particularly in a British election year.
MOZAMBIQUE AND NAMIBIA
18. (C) According to the MFA, Presidents Chirac and Chissano knew and liked each other well. Chissano studied in France and the GOF courted Chissano when necessary, particularly during the Mozambican president's tenure as President of the African Union. While Maputo was on the itinerary for one of former FM de Villepin's first (of many) trips to Africa, it was selected when scheduling made meetings in South Africa impossible. Mozambique receives more French development assistance than any other non-francophone country, but we detect no significant French political interest.
19. (C) As with Chissano, the French are positive about Nujoma's decision to retire, but only quietly so. With friends like Eyadema and Deby, the GOF is hardly wedded to the notion of term limits for African presidents. During Nujoma's last visit to France, he sought a meeting with Cooperation Minister Darcos, causing concern in the GOF about a potentially long wish-list for assistance. Instead, Nujoma told Darcos that he liked French goat cheese, and sought French assistance in developing a goat cheese industry in Namibia, a project the GOF is now embarking on.
ZAMBIA, MALAWI, BOTSWANA, LESOTHO, AND SWAZILAND
20. (C) Notwithstanding that French company Schneider Electronics was found guilty in February of bribing the former Chief Executive of the Lesotho Highland Development Authority in connection with the construction of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, the case made no news in France. There have been no recent high-level bilateral visits to or from any of these five countries and GOF interest is minimal. Wolff