wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy Privacy
Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05LILONGWE906
2005-10-13 14:57:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Lilongwe
Cable title:  

AL QAIDA MADE ME DO IT: GONDWE'S TALL STORY ON

Tags:   EFIN  PTER  EAID  MI 
pdf how-to read a cable
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 LILONGWE 000906 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/S MELINDA TABLER-STONE
TREASURY FOR INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS/AFRICA/BEN CUSHMAN
STATE FOR EB/IFD/ODF LINDA SPECHT

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/13/2015
TAGS: EFIN PTER EAID MI
SUBJECT: AL QAIDA MADE ME DO IT: GONDWE'S TALL STORY ON
FERTILIZER

Classified By: Econoff W. Taliaferro for reasons 1.4 b/d



1. (U) In the midst of a raucous parliamentary debate on
October 12 over the food and fertilizer situation in Malawi,
Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe was asked to explain delays
in getting fertilizer imported and distributed to depots
around the country. He said the GOM had sealed a fertilizer
deal with a broker in Saudi Arabia some time ago, but that
the government's bank, Citibank, had refused to put the
transaction through, citing an alleged connection between the
broker and Al Qaida. When asked to name the broker, Gondwe
said he had forgotten the name. The local press has since
picked up the story and passed it, via a famously excitable
Malawian stringer, to Reuters and BBC.



2. (C) When Embassy followed up with the Ministry, we got no
substantive response. The reason for this became clear when
we contacted Citigroup's South Africa-based country manager
for Malawi, who is handling the GOM's letters of credit for
fertilizer purchases. Gondwe, under extreme pressure to
justify poor execution on the purchases, appears to have
simply made up the story on the spot.



3. (C) As Citigroup explains it, the GOM is dealing with two
Saudi middlemen on the fertilizer deals: Avignon Holdings and
Pioneer Chemical Factory. These brokers have sourced the
fertilizer in Ukraine and Thailand, and are still involved
with issuing letters of credit. Citigroup claims to have
checked out the middlemen thoroughly before proceeding with
the deal. In any case, there have been no delays in
processing purchases on account of suspected terrorist
connections. Citigroup has assured us that, had such a
connection been found, it would have been reported to the USG
and not discussed with the GOM. This incident has been the
subject of a certain amount warm communication between the
Johannesburg and New York offices of Citigroup since the
story hit Reuters wires last night.



4. (C) COMMENT: This incident reflects both the intense
pressure the administration is under to perform on food and
fertilizer distribution and the lengths to which the most
credible figures in the government have been driven to
justify their poor performance. (This poor performance,
mainly on the part of the agriculture ministry and the Admarc
parastatal, contrasts sharply with Gondwe's brilliant
execution of fiscal reform, which has taken the country back
in the good graces of the IMF in one year.) The past three
days of parliamentary debate have been heated nearly to the
point of fisticuffs, and the GOM is groping for explanations.
The opposition is showing little willingness to listen to
these explanations and even less to work on a solution.
Since no one cares about real causes and effects, Gondwe may
reason, he may as well make the story a good one.
EASTHAM