Address Delivered by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, The Honorable Ms Sue van der Merwe, on the Occasion of the Briefing to Members of the Diplomatic Corps of Missions accredited to South Africa, Burgers Park Hotel, 21 April 2005

Excellencies,
The Dean of the Diplomatic Corps,
High Commissioners, Ambassadors and Colleagues,


The UN Secretary General's Panel Report entitled "A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility", concluded that:

"Development and security are inextricably linked. A more secure world is only possible if poor countries are given a chance to develop. Extreme poverty and infectious diseases threaten many people directly, but they also provide a fertile breeding ground for other threats, including civil conflict. Even people in rich countries will be more secure if their governments help poor countries to defeat poverty and diseases by meeting the Millennium Development Goals".

The African continent is without doubt the continent most affected by poverty and underdevelopment and the connection between conflict and underdevelopment is more visible here than anywhere else. An analysis of countries in conflict or those that have recently emerged from conflict reveals a consistent pattern of low per capita income, absolute poverty, low life expectancy, low levels of FDI and ODA and often high levels of indebtedness. It is also clear that these countries are often rich in resources and strategically located. Placing Africa at the centre of the global development discourse is therefore critical.

That is why South Africa's foreign policy objectives are firmly anchored in an African Agenda, an agenda that is aimed at pushing back the frontiers of poverty and underdevelopment. The effects of conflict such as economic, collapse, destruction of infrastructure, impoverishment of people, refugee flows and environmental degradation affect not only the countries and areas in conflict but also its neighbours and the continent as a whole. It has remained a major pre-occupation for our government to assist with the resolution of conflict and peace keeping where possible and within our capacity.

In this, the season of hope for the African continent, I would like to brief you today about some of the major developments in our efforts to bring peace and stability to our continent.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo
South Africa's involvement in this sister SADC country dates back to the latter half of the nineteen-nineties and the involvement of President Mandela and, at that time, Deputy President Mbeki in the negotiations on board the SAS Outeniqua. We have come a long way since then and South Africa has committed itself to assist within its means with the stabilisation of the DRC.

At this crucial moment in the transitional process, the Transitional Government of the DRC requires our encouragement and support as it implements the remaining elements of the Global and All-Inclusive Agreement, most importandtly with the conducting of free and fair elections.

Although some progress has been registered regarding the planning of voter identification and registration, it is crucial that outstanding legislation be passed expeditiously, and funds both from the DRC Government and international donors be availed for the conducting of the elections. For its part, South Africa is assisting the Transitional Government to ensure that the voter identification and registration is achieved as soon as possible.

Currently, the Government of the DRC is operating on the basis of a transitional constitution. The Constitution for the post-election period has been tabled in Parliament for promulgation and should be ready before the elections.

Pursuant to South Africa's commitment to assist the DRC to advance to elections in the second half of 2005 and with post-conflict reconstruction and development, our government departments are engaging their DRC counterparts on a series of issues, including governance and administration and defence and security. The Departments of Home Affairs; Foreign Affairs; Public Service and Administration; Justice and Constitutional Development; Defence; the South African Police Services; the National Intelligence Agency and the Independent Electoral Commission have deployed personnel in the DRC. This follows the conclusion of a needs-analysis for the holding of successful elections in the DRC.

Substantial progress has been made with the conducting the first phase of the census of public servants in Kinshasa. An initial headcount has been completed, census questionnaires have been completed in respect of public servants and data is currently being captured on a database. A second headcount will be done in April, biometric information will be captured and temporary ID cards will be issued. The Kinshasa census should be completed by the end of June 2005.

The second phase of the census, which will take place in the provinces will begin at the end of May 2005 and will be completed by the end of December 2005.

Concerning the DDR process, the United Nations Mission to the Congo (MONUC) has embarked on a forceful disarmament programme. Nine thousand and twelve (9 012) fighters had voluntarily laid down arms by the end of March 2005 and a sizeable number were able to make use of reintegration programmes and jobs promised to them. More still needs to be done in this area to ensure that all combatants are disarmed and reintegrated into Congolese society. Within the SADC context, South Africa is working with the DRC and Belgian governments to create a new Congolese army.

The latest positive development for peace in the Great Lakes region, was the announcement by the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR), who operate from the eastern DRC from which they launch attacks into Rwanda. On 31 March 2005 they announced that they would unconditionally abandon the armed struggle and return to Rwanda. The Security Council welcomed the FDLR decision and called United Nations the FDLR to co-operate with MONUC so that the disarmament program could commence. The FDLR was furthermore urged to assist the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda to fulfil its mandate by handing over any indicted persons who may still be at large.

This development bodes well for security in the Great Lakes region, and will contribute towards easing tensions between Rwanda and the DRC.

I must also mention that beyond our conflict resolution efforts, we also have bilateral government-to-government relations through the South Africa-DRC Binational Commission (BNC). Following the signing if the General Co-operation Agreement in Kinshasa in January 2004, which makes provision for the establishment of a BNC, the SA-DRC BNC was officially inaugurated by Presidents Mbeki and Kabila on 31 August 2004 in Kinshasa in the DRC. In accordance with the General Co-operation Agreement, sectoral commissions, namely Politics and Governance, Defence and Security, Humanitarian and Social Affairs, and Finance, Economy and Infrastructure were established with technical committees. The second session of the SA-DRC BNC is scheduled to take place in Pretoria on 29 April 2005.

Burundi
The Burundi peace initiative, initially led by Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and later, after his passing on, by former President Mandela and now through the tireless efforts of Deputy President Jacob Zuma has resulted in the adoption of an Interim Constitution by the Transitional Government and the Burundian political parties.

A regional Summit is scheduled for 22 April 2005 in Kampala to pronounce on the possible extension of the Transitional Government due to the delayed elections. During this Summit, Deputy President Zuma, as the Facilitator of the peace initiative will meet President Museveni of Uganda as Chairperson of the Great Lakes Initiative in Burundi to discuss the way forward.

The Transitional Government of Burundi will cease to exist after 22 April 2005 as provided for in the Arusha Agreement. The regional leaders will consider the possibility of extending the mandate of the Transitional Government until elections are held. Elections are still to be held during the course of 2005 and South Africa is committed contributing to their successful conclusion.

The second phase in the Burundi peace process will be the Reconstruction and Development Programme, which will commence after the elections.

South Africa remains committed to the establishment of peace and security in the Great Lakes region and in playing a role post-conflict reconstruction programmes. The African Peace Mission in Burundi (AMIB) recapped as United Nations Operations in Burundi (ONUB) must be credited for the return of stability in 95% of the country. It is envisaged that a South African Observer Mission will participate in the monitoring of the elections.

Recent positive developments include:

· progress with the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) process.
· The outcome of the referendum held on 28 February 2005 with 91.63% of the registered voters endorsing the new power- sharing constitution.
· The approval of the Electoral Code and Communal Law by the Senate that will allow the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) to finalise the elections' timetable.
· And importantly the PALIPEHUTU/FNL which has indicated its interest in joining the Transitional Government.

Many challenges remain including the timely announcement of the election timetable and the impact of returnees, internally displaced persons and fleeing Rwandan Hutus on Burundi's already fragile infrastructure. The urgent resuscitation of the Burundi economy, especially the agricultural sector on which 95% of Burundians rely for their livelihood and the infrastructure in general, remains crucial.

Côte d'Ivoire
On 28 March 2005 my colleague, Deputy Minister Pahad, briefed the United Nations Security Council on the progress being made by the AU mediation in resolving the crisis in Côte d'Ivoire. In his address, the Deputy Minister outlined the origins of the present conflict and leading up to the incident that precipitated South Africa's appointment as AU mediator. He also outlined the progress made since the mediation began in November 2004, as well as the outstanding issues, which were still obstructing the full implementation of the Road Map proposed by the AU mediation. The Deputy Minister confirmed that the three fundamental propositions of the mediation, namely:

· that the Linas-Marcoussis and Accra III agreements remained the framework for a solution;
· the Roadmap developed by the mediation indicated the way forward for the peace process;
· and that all Ivorian parties commit themselves to these.

Following up on this address, President Mbeki hosted the key leaders of the Côte d'Ivoire, including President Gbagbo, Prime Minister Diarra, and opposition leaders Mr Ouattara (RDR leader and former Prime Minister), Mr Konan Bedié (PDCI and a former Ivorian President ousted in a military coup d'etat in December 1999), and Mr Soro (Forces Nouvelles).

In the agreement, the parties committed themselves to an unequivocal and immediate ending of all hostilities in Côte d'Ivoire. The parties also reaffirmed their commitment to: (a) the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement as well as Accra II and III; (b) the AU mediation Road Map; (c) UN resolutions on Côte d'Ivoire; (d) the need for presidential elections in October 2005; (e) a respect for the sovereignty, independence, integrity and unity of Côte d'Ivoire and (f) the creating of a climate conducive to lasting peace. In addition, the Agreement addressed the following elements:

· Steps to immediately disarm and dismantle militias
· Steps to begin the disarmament process
· Steps to ensure security in areas under New Forces control
· Security of the Members of the government from the New Forces
· The delegated powers of the Prime Minister
· The constitution of the Independent Electoral Commission and the organisation of elections (which the Mediator will request the UN to help arrange)
· The Board of Radio Television Ivoire (RTI)
· The re-tabling of Linas-Marcoussis Agreement (LMA) related-laws before the National Assembly by the end of April 2005.
· The financing of political parties
· Eligibility to the Presidency, where the Mediator undertook to consult with the AU Chair (Nigeria) and the UN Secretary-General, before making a determination in this regard.

On 13 April 2005, Ivorian state television read the transcript of a letter from President Mbeki to the respective Ivorian leaders concerning his determination on the issue of resolving the Section 35 issue, namely that:

The Ivorian Constitutional Council should accept the eligibility of the candidates that would be presented by the political parties that were signatories to the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement.

Following this determination, President Gbagbo has undertaken a series consultations with the Young Patriots, women's groups, traditional chiefs, MPs and the military with a view to secure buy-in for the Pretoria Agreement and President Mbeki's determination regarding the issue of eligibility to the Presidency. All other Ivorian signatories to the Pretoria Agreement are embarking upon similar consultations.

In a series of meetings on implementing the DDR process, the Chiefs of Staff of FANCI and the FAFN, together with Prime Minister Diarra met in Boauke on 14 and 16 April 2005. It was agreed that all heavy weapons would be withdrawn from the Zone of Confidence by 21 April 2005. In addition, the DDR process would commence officially on 14 May 2005 and extend to 31 July 2005. This process is supported by a team of DDR experts from the SA National Defence Force.

South Africa, in addition, has agreed to provide training on close protection for the New Forces.

Without doubt, the Pretoria Agreement represents a new hope for the Ivorian people, who have long been yearning for a return to peace and stability in their country. It has indeed lent renewed impetus to the search for peace in la Côte d'Ivoire. More than anything it has introduced a new sense of urgency in the implementation of previous undertakings. South Africa, as mediator, will give a report back to the United Nations Security Council on 26 April 2005.

Sudan
The signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Government of the Sudan and the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), marked the dawn of a new era in the Sudan. It brought to an end one of the oldest conflicts on the African continent. We salute the Sudanese people for their courage and magnanimity and hope that the same spirit will soon prevail in the ongoing conflict in the Darfur region.

In this regard, as part of our commitment to assist with the resolution of the conflict in the Darfur region, South Africa has deployed 10 Military Observers to the AU Mission in Sudan (Darfur), as well as 101 civilian police members and around 350 armed military personnel, to strengthen the work of the AU in Darfur.

As Chair the AU Sudan Post-Conflict Reconstruction Committee, South Africa recognises post-conflict reconstruction as of the utmost importance in peace missions. We will place a lot more emphasis on post-conflict reconstruction since it is evident that the continent is moving into a phase where post-conflict reconstruction will take centre-stage. In this regard, South Africa will also be promoting the role of NEPAD as a useful tool for reconstruction.

The activities of the Post-Conflict Committee are continuing. Ministers from member countries of the Committee visited North and South Sudan 22 - 26 March 2005. Based on the findings of this visit, a Comprehensive African Strategy for Post Conflict Reconstruction in the Sudan, with clear and time-bound actions is being finalised, which will also be co-ordinated with reconstruction efforts funded by donor countries.

The AU recognises the inevitable need for its Member States, though themselves poor and beset by challenges almost as daunting as Sudan's, to embrace our duty to fully assist our Sudanese sisters and brothers in the tasks that lie ahead. South Africa is committed to making a contribution in areas where it can add value, based on our comparative advantages and capacities in promoting peace, unity, democracy and development on our continent.

One of the first challenges in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement is development and institution building in South Sudan. To this effect, the DFA-SPLM-UNISA Capacity and Institution Building Project for South Sudan was launched on 5 February 2005 in South Sudan with the active participation of a large delegation of senior South African government officials, led by Deputy Minister Pahad, which was also the first orientation and training session of senior SPLM/A cadres.

A further orientation/capacity building/training visit by a large SPLM delegation, led by the First and Second Vice Chairmen, took place in South Africa, 28 March - 8 April, during which the delegation interacted with a wide range of government and other relevant institutions. The SPLM group were placed in South African government departments as part of an experiential work programme. This and other capacity building exercises, which is aimed at supporting the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, will assist the SPLM in developing skills that would enable them to play a positive and meaningful role in a united Sudanese government.

Zimbabwe
The South African Government has been in continuous consultation with both the MDC and ZANU-PF in its efforts of trying to encourage them to stabilise Zimbabwe's economic and political situation.

In this regard South Africa will continue to encourage both the ZANU-PF and the MDC to agree on a new Constitution that could lead to joint presidential and parliamentary elections before the end of President Mugabe's current term in 2008. South Africa has also offered to be of assistance on an economic recovery programme for Zimbabwe.

President Thabo Mbeki has furthermore advised the MDC to take up the issue of their dissatisfaction with the election results with the electoral courts. He also said that South Africa would abide by the decision of the electoral courts.

The Government of the Republic of South Africa will continue to place a priority in engaging the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe through multilateral fora. However, the South African government maintains that it is the priority of the Zimbabwean people to try and find home-grown solutions to the challenges that the country is facing.

Excellencies,

Many challenges remain to be addressed but it is clear that substantive progress has been achieved in all these areas of conflict. We have progressed towards breaking the vicious circle of instability and underdevelopment not only through our joint efforts but also as a result of the willingness of a new generation of African leaders that are prepared to take responsibility for the destiny of the continent.

Africa is, indeed, currently engaged in profound and fundamental processes of renewal. This is part of the second wave of democracy to sweep the continent in recent years beginning with the liberation of South Africa in 1994. The over-arching objective is to break the vicious cycle of political instability, poverty, and underdevelopment, as well as to strengthen Africa's capacity to defend and advance her interests in the global arena. The key building blocks of this strategy are increased political unity and concerted action through the AU, and accelerated socio-economic transformation through the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), which is the AU's programme.


Together we will face the future with confidence.


I thank you

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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa