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07PRETORIA1288 2007-04-16 12:07:00 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Pretoria
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1. (C) South Africa's political leadership would be open to a
request for South African assistance in deploying Burundian
troops to the AU Mission in Somalia, according to SAG Great
Lakes Envoy and DFA Deputy Director General Kingsley
Mamabolo. During Acting DCM's April 13 discussion of Ref A
points (Burundi peace process issues reported septel),
Mamabolo noted that even though South Africa said it cannot
provide troops for the Somali mission, DefMin Lekota publicly
stated January 25 that the SAG would look for other ways to
support AMISOM (ref B). Mamabolo said he would raise the
issue with DepForMin Pahad later April 13.

2. (C) Mamabolo made three observations about the request:

-- The SAG would be more apt to assist if the request came
from the African Union, not bilaterally.

-- The South African Department of Defence would have the
lead on technical discussions.

-- The Burundian military has the capacity to provide the
troops, but would need assistance with equipment and

3. (C) COMMENT: We agree with Ref A that South Africa could
be a useful partner on the Burundian deployment in Somalia,
given their relationship with the GOB, the fact they
currently have some 1000 troops deployed in Burundi, and
their stated commitment to assisting with AMISOM. The next
step is providing the SAG Department of Defence with a
concrete, technical request detailing exactly what is sought
from them. In order to avoid political complications, this
request should come from the AU or the GOB -- although we
would also want to backchannel the request through key SAG
interlocutors like Mamabolo.

4. (C/NF) COMMENT Cont.: The SANDF are currently
overcommitted in Burundi, Sudan, Ethiopia/Eritrea, and the
DRC. Additionally, the South African Air Force's C-130
operational readiness is very low, which may prevent or limit
their capability to provide direct airlift assistance. END