Notes following Briefing IRPS Cluster Briefing addressed by Foreign Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Imbizo Media Centre, 120 Plein Street, Cape Town, Wednesday, 7 September 2005

  • Introductory remarks by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma

  • Let me say, this briefing comes in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In this regard, we reiterate our condolences to those who have lost their loved ones, friends, family and possessions. We wish all who have been affected by this tragedy a speedy recovery and hope the fabric of life in the South together with its rich cultural heritage can be speedily recovered.

  • As you know, South Africa is the custodian of the WSSD - considering the severity of Hurricane Katrina it is prudent to reiterate that we must promote the decisions of WSSD. In fact, there has just been a discussion on climate change in our government. I'm sure you will receive more information in this regard from the relevant cluster.

  • I am also meeting you about 48 hours before I depart for New York where I will attend both the High Level Review on the Millennium Development Summit and the 60th session of the United Nations General Assembly. There have been certain expectations in terms of the outcomes of both Summits. I briefed the Parliamentary Foreign Relations Portfolio Committee in this regard last week. I will not reiterate the substance of this briefing but will take any questions that you may have.

  • There is also the issue of the World Trade Organisation negotiations in preparation for the Hong Kong meeting. We are optimistic that the negotiations will yield positive results, although progress is not as positive as it should be either in terms of market access, agricultural subsidies and any of the other pertinent issues. Since we are very far from consensus, we regard this issue as work in progress.

  • We have also just concluded the SADC Summit where some progress in terms of key issues has been achieved.

As you know, SADC also celebrated its 25th anniversary. There has also been a change of guard - a new Executive Secretary, former Mozambican minister has been elected with the Deputy Executive Secretary being from Angola.

We also signed the Protocol on the Free Movement of People within the region. This matter has been long outstanding and the conclusion of this bodes well for the full political and economic integration of people within the region.

Progress has also been made in terms of the SADC Standby Brigade of the African Union. In this regard, I think SADC in on course.

We also looked at documenting the history of the liberation struggle in Southern African. While much work has been done in this regard, there is no record of the liberation struggle from our perspective. The SADC Secretariat has now set up offices in Tanzania and Mozambique from where this work will be co-ordinated and are in a process of gathering people who will contribute to this project. Regrettably, many have died taking this information with them to their graves.

Timeframes have also been put in place for the integration of the SADC region:

2008 Economic integration of the region
2010 Customs Union to be finalised
201 5 Common market to be in place
Beyond 2015 A common currency for the region.

  • We remain engaged with peace initiatives in Africa. There is not much to add since the update which we provided in July 2005

  • Burundi : We are very happy that a democratically elected government has been installed in Burundi. Burundi is a real success story for the Continent because the situation was unique. The Burundian peace process was driven almost entirely by Africans and continental structures. The UN did not become involved until very late in the process.

However, this is not the time for us to become complacent. Without proper post-conflict reconstruction and development, a very real possibility exists for the re-emergence of the conflict. This post-conflict reconstruction and development remains the most critical challenge in Burundi at the moment since there is no infrastructure or systems in place.

The very moral fibre and societal reconstruction must now take place.

The challenge is much bigger now than in the conflict phase. In this regard, we must remain seized with the situation in Burundi.

  • Mauritania : As you know, Mauritania has taken a step back. As you also know, while the AU condemns all unconstitutional transfers of power, it also takes the view that the country in question must be assisted to return to constitutional order.

In this regard, an AU delegation, led by the Nigerian Foreign Minister and include the Minister of Safety and Security Charles Nqakula visited Mauritania. It became clear in their discussions that it is impossible to return the ousted President to his role but assistance will be provided to the country by the AU in order to restore a constitutional order to Mauritania.

  • Sudan : The big challenge in Sudan is the situation between the North and the South that was slightly destabilised following the death of the First Vice President Dr John Garang. It was however, very positive that the SPLM was able to unanimously decide on his successor, Salva Kirr. There are now new challenges in place but Salva Kirr must be supported and we will continue to do so, as we have always done. Western Sudan (Darfur) remains a challenge.

South Africa and the AU must support the process. As you know, South Africa chairs the AU Post Conflict Reconstruction Committee on Sudan. But reconstruction goes beyond bricks and mortar, the very social fabric of society must be reconstructed.

The most difficult challenge remains the nurturing and development of the culture of peace and co-operation between the peoples of the North and South. This will be tested in 6 years time when the people of the South go to a referendum to decide whether to remain part of the Sudan. In this regard, we believe it is in everyone's interest for Sudan to remain united but only the people of Sudan can decide this.

  • Ivory Coast : there has been an extensive briefing by Defence Minister Lekota in this regard. I will however take any questions that you may have.

  • DRC : You received a very extensive briefing during the July briefing. The biggest challenge at this stage is to amass enough resources ahead of the elections to support the process.

However, with regard to preparations for elections, the registration of voters is in place; the integration of the armed forces is in progress albeit slow.

We are working hard with other international partners - the UK, EU, France, Belgium, Angola in order to collate these resources.

Again, post conflict reconstruction is critical. The private sector must also be mobilised in this regard. There is much potential but the conditions must exist for these resources to be turned into wealth.

  • Liberia : Liberia is scheduled to hold elections in early October. President Mbeki received a delegation from Liberia yesterday, Tuesday 6 September, during which he was briefed on certain issues particularly with regard to disarmament, etc. The Liberians have done well in this regard.

However, the biggest constraint at the moment remains finances. Severance packages must be paid to the demobilised soldiers. We all believe this is a good idea.

When you look at the history of Liberia is it incomplete processes like the one that led to the country sliding back into conflict and instability.

Questions and answers

Question Minister, there has been a skirmish in Mozambique over the local elections. Is this a flashpoint of some sort?

Answer As far as I know, Mozambique is a relatively stable country. I do not believe there is any cause for concern.

Question Minister, could you kindly update us on the matter of the loan to Zimbabwe?

Answer It would be better to ask the Ministers of the Economic Cluster this question. However, as far as I know, when I last enquired, I was told the matter had not been finalised. As you know, Zimbabwe has since paid some of the outstanding money. Perhaps this has altered the situation.

Question Minister, elections in Haiti are around the corner. President Aristide has not indicated his intention to participate. What will be his role?

Answer Our view is that even if Haiti holds elections, these are not sufficient to solve the problems in Haiti, ie. the problems of Haiti cannot be solved by elections.

For elections to be a means to solve problems in a country, they must be held in an atmosphere where all parties can participate freely without intimidation. We also believe it is important for members of the Lavalas party to participate in elections. Most of its leaders are in jail or in exile.

President Aristide has already indicated he will not participate in the elections since he does not want to provide an excuse for elements to further destabilise the situation in Haiti. However, while he will remain in South Africa until the situation is conducive for him to return to Haiti, he would like members of his party to participate freely in the elections.

Regarding his position after the elections, yes this is difficult. He will remain in South Africa until there are conditions of stability in Haiti - this was agreed at the outset with the US and French.

Question Minister, at the last briefing regarding the reform of the United Nations Security Council, you indicated that South Africa is not in favour of the veto. Is this correct?

Answer Your interpretation is not entirely accurate. In addition, my personal views are not relevant.

South Africa is part of the AU and the AU has said we must try and get support for the veto. However, we have been unsuccessful in ascertaining support for this.

We have always said as the AU that the veto should not exist, but if it does for other members, then, as a matter of justice, we should have it.

The AU has taken a decision that we should try to get support for this position. Ten Heads of State have been charged with this responsibility.

Question Minister, can we have an update regarding South Africa's mediation attempts in the Ivory Coast? The situation has now reached an impasse with regarding to parties saying they will not accept mediation by President Mbeki.

Answer We must remember the role of South Africa in Ivory Coast was tasked by the AU. We think South Africa has achieved most of what it was initially tasked to do. We were not charged with being the implementation arm in the process.

South Africa has negotiated the resolution of the issue with regard to Article 35 and other contentious issues.

We have also ensured there is an agreed plan in terms of disarmament. Again, South Africa was not responsible for implementing any of this.

In any situation of this nature, there is always a scapegoat, most notably the facilitator, when parties do not want to move forward.

It is important to realise that the resolution of the crisis in the Ivory Coast will out of necessity, result in a complete organisation of the balance of forces in the country.

Question Minister, the 175 amendments to the draft outcomes document, proposed by the US, have thrown the negotiations of the reform on the Security Council into disarray. Do you believe there will a meaningful outcome next week's summit?

Answer It is difficult to determine the outcomes of next week's summit while I sit in South Africa. There are ongoing efforts to negotiate consensus on the matter. Even up to 2-3 weeks ago, there was optimism that consensus could be reached on 6 of the critical issues.

There is however, at the moment, no optimism of consensus considering the proposed amendments.

Question Minister, with regard to the funds being sought by Burundi and the DRC - is there any intention to seek funding from the UN Democracy Fund?

Answer We are attempting to seek resources from our international partners. In some instances we are even looking at trilateral partnerships.

The UN Democracy Fund does not exist at the moment - it is only a proposal. The UN is however contributing funding to the DRC and we hope they will assist during the elections.

Question Minister, what is your opinion regarding the manner in which Hurricane Katrina is being handled?

Answer While I do have an opinion, you have not asked me to express it. In addition, my personal opinion is irrelevant and it is not important to waste time on irrelevant matters. It is becoming evident that the number of natural disasters is increasing. It is incumbent upon each and everyone of us to collectively work towards mitigating the effects of such disasters.

Question Minister, to what extent will South Africa assist in post-conflict reconstruction in Burundi? And which departments are involved?

Answer When we were involved in Burundi during conflict reconstruction, we worked as part of the East African team which was headed by President Museveni. The region requested the assistance for former President Nelson Mandela. The role was then passed onto former Deputy President Jacob Zuma.

In this regard, we worked as part of the collective. We will now begin to implement bilateral co-operation with Burundi.

The South African departments who will participate will be determined by the nature of bilateral agreements reached with Burundi.

Question Minister, on the matter of Security Council reform - do any doors remain open?

Answer The interpretation that this was an AU-G4 negotiation is a false one. The G4 and neither the AU has anything to give to anyone.

However, the G4 position was the one closest to that of the AU - no other position talked of permanent seats and none spoke of permanent seats for Africa.

The General Assembly must adopt any proposal with a two thirds majority.

Heads of State must be given an opportunity to sell the AU position - Africa will be the greatest loser if the matter is abandoned at this stage.

I do not believe the matter can be concluded in New York later this month. I also believe the UN will afford Heads of State the opportunity to have as many discussions in New York as possible in the attempt to find consensus.

Question Minister, you seemed to indicate, during parliamentary questions that South Africa would be prepared to intervene with the IMF on Zimbabwe's behalf?

Answer I did not say that. How is it possible to intercede on behalf of a sovereign country, without an agreement from that country? Zimbabwe is a sovereign country. It is not the 10th province of South Africa.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152

7 September 2005

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