Item 1386 - Opening address at the International Donor Conference to raise funds for Burundi

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ZA COM MR-S-1386


Opening address at the International Donor Conference to raise funds for Burundi


  • 2000-12-11 (Creation)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

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International Donor Conference to raise funds for Burundi. This is the prepared speech. From news reports it seems that Mr Mandela deviated from this.

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  • English

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On the 16th of January this year I paid my first visit to Arusha as the newly appointed Facilitator of the Burundi Peace Process, where I succeeded the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere who had performed so outstandingly in that position before his sad and untimely death, and had laid the foundations on which we could build.
That first visit was to make the acquaintance of the parties involved in the Peace Process; to outline some of the objectives we set ourselves as Facilitator; and to urge the Burundi leadership to introduce a greater element of urgency into their efforts to arrive at a peace settlement.

Today, not even a full eleven months after that start, our meeting here marks significant progress in the search for lasting peace in Burundi.

This meeting of international donors seeking to find ways in which the reconstruction and development of Burundi can be assisted, would not have taken place if there was not the belief that we have made major advances towards a settlement in that country.

I shall be failing if I do not begin by paying tribute to the Burundi leadership.

From the start I expressed my confidence in the quality of leadership I encountered at Arusha. I conveyed to them and the international world through addresses at the United Nations Security Council, my trust that they would rise to the challenge and put the interests of the people of Burundi first.

Our meeting here is a vindication of that trust.

Throughout the negotiation process we made the point to the Burundi leadership and people that a peace settlement would and should not be the end.

I undertook to mobilise the international community to continue their much-valued involvement in the peace process by participating in concerted efforts to revitalise and develop the Burundi economy and society.

We took that message to the international community, urging that we find ways of making of Burundi a showcase example of peace bringing its dividends. We stressed that the long history of inter-communal conflict was also due to a fierce competition over very scarce resources that were accessible mainly through control of state power. We need to find ways of developing a more diversified private sector economy as well.

I approached President Jacques Chirac with the request that he convenes such a conference of international donors as we have here today. Our thanks go to President Chirac for his immediate positive response and the speed with which he gave effect to his undertaking.

With this kind of interest and support from an international leader and from the international community, Burundi can take heart. I have no doubt that this generous demonstration of support for the development of their country can only serve to further strengthen their resolve to speedily settle all the matters that are still in the way of reaching a final and comprehensive settlement.

Without the material and political support of the international community the Peace Process would not have been possible in the first place and we once more record our appreciation for that support.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Secretary-General of the Organisation of African Unity, the European Union, the international donor community, various bilateral donor countries, heads of states and governments in the region, further afield on the African continent and from some leading countries in the West have all been crucial role-players in bringing the process to where it stands today.

The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the UNDP and again the European Union had been valuable partners in making this conference possible.

We thank all of you on behalf of the people of Burundi.

A final and comprehensive peace agreement has obviously not been concluded yet. The two armed groups are still outside of the agreement reached amongst the nineteen signatory parties at Arusha. Efforts to secure their participation and agreement to a cease-fire continue.

From the outset we announced that it was crucial for the talks to be all-inclusive and we opened direct dialogue with the armed groups, sometimes in Arusha but mainly in South Africa. We have received encouraging commitment from them and later this week they are expected to travel to South Africa for a further series of consultations.

It is, however, necessary for us to also here record our warning to the rebel groups that there can be no justification on their part to continue these brutal attacks, mostly against innocent and unarmed civilians, when a political agreement had been reached at Arusha and they have been invited to make their inputs into that process.

The peace process shall not be held ransom by them. The dastardly attack on a commercial passenger plane last week must be condemned in the strongest terms, as should be all of their cowardly assaults on the people of Burundi.

The fact that this conference is taking place should also clearly signal to them that progress and development shall not wait for their approval. The political leadership of Burundi meets here to plot the path of reconstruction and development together with the international community.

We are examining ways in which the security situation in Burundi can be addressed. To this end we are discussing with the regional leadership the possibility of deploying troops from the region to assist the Burundi army with peace-keeping exercises in the country.

Later today a presentation of the agreement reached at Arusha shall be made to this gathering. The great achievement contained in the fact that the political parties could come to such an accord must not be underestimated. There are in that agreement matters that continue to receive attention. The question of the transitional leadership, for example, needs to be settled.

The point, though, is that there is a process underway in which the Barundi are now working with one another. These processes are in real life never as neat and tidy as we would want them to be on paper, but we, the Facilitator, are here today as guarantor of the fact that the process is meaningfully and purposefully under way.

An implementing Monitoring Commission had been established and has held its first meeting. The National Assembly in Bujumbura has ratified the Arusha Agreement, thereby initiating the next phase of uniting the Burundi people around a common national project.

We are confident that although the implementation process has not yet started, amongst others because the party leaders in exile could not as yet return to Burundi, the opportunity to now already commence some of the needed reforms will not be missed. We are confident that the government will even now already make all efforts to work with its signatory partners and start to reform institutions such as the judiciary, the media and others.

Our commitment to seeing this conference come about is due to our belief that the political progress needs to be accompanied and reinforced by social and economic progress. It must be made possible for the people of Burundi to materially distinguish between the destructiveness of conflict and the benefits of peace. This can only serve to strengthen the chances of lasting and long-term peace.

Burundi requires resources for their immediate emergency needs, for humanitarian relief and for longer-term developmental purposes. These are, however, not separate items but should be addressed in an integrated manner. That is what the Burundi are here to present to this donors' conference.

We look forward to these two days of deliberation and consultation resulting in some tangible results that can bring hope to the people of Burundi and further galvanise the leadership to move speedily to implementation of the agreement.

We trust that commitments will be forthcoming to provide resources for a range of developmental activities.

Resources that could service the processes of integration and reconciliation are required.

Funds are needed to kick-start the economy and provide jobs all over the country, particularly also in the rural areas.

The economy needs the means to provide for the imports necessary to generate and sustain private sector activity.

Without investment in education and health services the revitalisation of no society is possible. There must be a concerted drive towards capacity building; we need to develop in an accelerated manner a corps of people to manage and develop the economy and other sectors of society.

In the area of health care particular attention should be paid to a massive campaign to combat HIV/AIDS. Economic development is seriously threatened by this great scourge of our times.

Another African ailment that needs our attention is that of debt. This conference can very usefully apply its mind to that issue as well. It would be counterproductive for us to allow Burundi to spend resources on debt servicing at the same time as we wish their economy to lift itself out of its present situation.

Here at the latter part of a very long walk in search of freedom in my own country, for the emancipation and development of my continent and the realisation of the full humanity of all people in our common world, I take great courage from this event today. Here we are saying that we care for one another, that we are the keepers of our brother and sister no matter where they find themselves. This concern of the international donor community for a small African country gives one hope for the twenty-first century.

I thank you.

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Acquisition method: From hard drive ; Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation Prof J Gerwel. Accessioned on 01/02/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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