(File image) Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma

Pretoria - Africa needed to find solutions to counter its array of problems, newly-elected AU commission chairwoman Nkosazana

Dlamini-Zuma said on Wednesday.

“If we don't find those solutions, who is going to find them for us?” she told reporters, after meeting a forum of former African leaders in Pretoria.

“As Africans, it may not be easy, but we have to find those solutions.”

Flanked by chairman of the forum of past leaders and former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano, and Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Dlamini-Zuma said she was worried about armed conflict on the continent.

“We are worried about any conflict and it's important that we deal with those conflicts. If we had a way, we would prevent those conflict situations before they even start,” she said.

“The SADC organ was meeting on Monday to look at the situation in the (Democratic Republic of) Congo and they are linking up with the chairperson of the Great Lakes Region. At this summit, the matter was also discussed.”

Dlamini-Zuma said there were processes in place to end armed conflict on the continent.

Ministers from southern Africa on Monday opened talks, set to be dominated by the crisis in Madagascar and violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Top diplomats and security officials from the 15-member Southern African Development Community were meeting ahead of an annual summit of heads of state, to be held in Maputo on August 17 and 18.

Turning to a the warrant of arrest against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Dlamini-Zuma said she respected the AU's stance.

“The AU took a decision that they would want that (warrant of arrest) to be deferred. They (AU) thought it was important to get peace in Sudan and President Bashir had to be part of finding peace.

“The AU had applied its mind and decided that it was more important to get peace in Sudan than to rush for the arrest. They asked for the arrest to be deferred and that decision still stands.”

The continental body shifted its summit in July from Malawi to its headquarters in Ethiopia, after a dispute over Lilongwe's refusal to host al-Bashir, who faces war crimes charges.

She said the African continent needed to make construction of infrastructure a priority, to boost trade amongst member states.

“Without infrastructure that connects us, it would be very difficult to improve trade amongst us. There is an initiative now to try and see how we can get resources, amongst ourselves, to accelerate the 1/8construction of 3/8 infrastructure.”

The former African leaders who met with Dlamini-Zuma included Bakili Muluzi of Malawi, John Kufuor of Ghana, Ali Hassan Mwinyi of Tanzania and Karl Auguste Offman of Mauritius.

The ex-presidents are all members of the Africa Forum. - Sapa