R 031521Z FEB 09
FM AMEMBASSY WINDHOEK
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 0320
INFO SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY C O N F I D E N T I A L WINDHOEK 000037
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/02/2019
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR MEETS WITH NUJOMA
REF: WINDHOEK 407
Classified By: Ambassador Dennise Mathieu, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
1. (C) On February 2, Ambassador met with former Namibian
President and founding father, Sam Nujoma. Nujoma was in
good spirits and spoke enthusiastically about the new U.S.
administration and its potential impact on U.S. foreign
policy. He also briefly commented on the state of democracy
in Namibia and the situation in Zimbabwe. End Summary.
2. (SBU) Ambassador paid a courtesy call on Sam Nujoma at his
office on February 2. Ambassador had not seen the former
president since she called on him a year ago. Nujoma began
by congratulating Ambassador on the U.S. elections. He said
several times during the course of the conversation that
Namibians were expecting more interaction and more commercial
trade with the United States as a result of President Obama
taking office. He also expressed his hope that he would be
able to meet with Ambassador more frequently during 2009.
3. (SBU) When asked about the state of Namibia's business
climate, Nujoma replied that recent discoveries of additional
deposits of uranium in Namibia would benefit the energy
sector. Diamonds, by contrast, had been badly affected by
the global financial crisis. Namibia, he added, needed to be
less dependent on the import and export of raw materials.
4. (C) Ambassador inquired into Nujoma's thoughts on the
state of Namibia's democracy in light of the upcoming
elections and a front page story in the day's issue of "The
Namibian," which reported that the SWAPO Party Elders'
Council (SPEC) asked the newspaper to stop publishing
readers' instant messages that criticize President Pohamba or
Nujoma himself. (Note: The article quoted the SPEC Secretary
as saying the instant messages were promoting "hatred and
public discontent, whose consequences will be too ghastly to
contemplate." In addition, the story claimed the Minister of
Information was instructed to put an end to "dangerous radio
programs" and chat shows "before the situation gets out of
control." End note.) Nujoma responded that Namibia's
"policy" of free expression was certainly correct, but that
it "must be done in a constructive way (that) does not cause
problems for Namibians." He added that tolerance was the key
to the success of Namibia's young democracy and that Namibia
had much to learn from other nations.
5. (C) Nujoma was pleased with news that the ZANU-PF and MDC
parties in Zimbabwe had agreed to form a power-sharing
government. He believes that once the government forms and
the two parties begin exchanging views, thorny issues, such
as the sharing of various ministries, will be resolved.
Ambassador explained that the USG stood ready to support a
government of national unity if a true power-sharing
arrangement emerged, violence ceased, and those who had been
kidnapped were accounted for. She also opined that a
sustainable land policy should be developed, particularly in
light of the recent SADC Tribunal decision. The former
president said he was optimistic the situation would improve
6. (C) Comment: The 79-year-old Nujoma seemed as physically
and mentally agile has he did during Ambassador's last visit
in December 2007. He clearly follows current events both at
home and abroad. However, his comments were short on
substance, especially given some accounts that he still calls
the shots in the SWAPO party and is extremely influential in
Namibian politics. It is possible that Nujoma purposefully
affects this posture with visitors, because he technically
has no official title in the party or government. It is also
possible that Nujoma is given credit for influencing
situations, such as ostracizing and driving out members of
SWAPO who do not toe the party line (reftel), for which the
credit belongs to others. It is worth noting that Nujoma
appeared to be enthusiastic about future meetings with
Ambassador. In 2008, however, Nujoma did not accept any
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