Message from Deputy President Jacob Zuma read by Minister of Foreign Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to the South Africa-Burundi Women's Dialogue held at Essellen Park, Johannesburg, 19 July 2004

The pursuit for peace in the African continent is a noble and crucial mission.

It is therefore a very significant development that women from South Africa and Burundi are meeting to discuss peace in Burundi, as well as the key question of the participation of women in the peace process and in the democratic order that will emerge after the elections.

We welcome all the Burundian sisters present at this dialogue, and wish them a wonderful stay and fruitful exchanges with their South African counterparts.

Our two countries have gone through internecine conflict, and women have borne the brunt of the conflict in different ways. The dialogue between the sisters from the two countries is therefore of benefit not only to the Burundians but to the continent as a whole, given the renewed quest for peace and stability in Africa. Women have a key role to play in the resolution of conflicts and in working for peace and stability, and this engagement this week indicates an execution of that responsibility.

As our Burundian sisters would be aware, South African women were actively involved in the struggle for the liberation of their country. They have also waged a successful struggle for emancipation and for the recognition of women's rights as human rights; hence the participation of women in various senior and visible levels particularly in government and parliament.

Burundi women have their own experiences as well of working for peace and reconciliation, and their own struggle for recognition as equal players in the political and other fields.

This week's dialogue therefore should be about the sharing of views, experiences and strategies between the women of Burundi and South Africa as equal partners in the struggle to establish peace and democracy in Burundi and the renewal of Africa as a whole.

The recent African Union Summit made it crystal clear that the continent's leadership is determined to rid the continent of conflicts, and to ensure the acceleration of sustainable socio-economic development.

The South Africa-Burundi Women's Dialogue is therefore in line with the objectives of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and the Constitutive Act of the African Union, as it promotes the building of a new Africa, free from wars and famine, and free of discrimination of any forms whether religion, gender or ethnic origin.

As you would be aware, talks regarding a post-election power sharing arrangement have been taking place in Pretoria from yesterday, Sunday the 18th, in line with the mandate given to us by the Great Lakes Heads of State Summit of June 5.

President Mbeki and I spent the whole of yesterday in consultations with President Domitien Ndayizeye of Burundi, Uprona, CNDD-FDD and Frodebu. We are continuing the discussions today, hence our inability to join you at the opening of this Dialogue.

The inclusion of women in the post-election democratic order, as well as in conflict management and reconciliation is an issue that you are likely to discuss at length at this Dialogue. We look forward to seeing your resolutions, which will undoubtedly be an important contribution to the peace processes in Burundi, the region and the continent.

We trust that the Dialogue will create a bond between the women of our two countries. After this week, the sharing of experiences and expertise will probably continue in order to build, defend and consolidate the democracy that will emerge in Burundi after elections.

The dialogue is a step in the right direction, and we wish you success in your deliberations.

I thank you.

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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa