“The visit is aimed at deepening and strengthening the already existing good political relations between the two countries, fortified by the strong historical ties dating back from the years of the struggle against colonialism and apartheid,” a statement of the South African Presidency stated.
The ANC led government has been one of the staunch supporters of the Saharawi people, who are still fighting the last anti-colonial struggle on the continent.
“The protracted suffering of the people of Western Sahara and the current impasse in negotiations towards finding a durable solution to the struggle for self-determination remains a major concern for the South African government and the continent of Africa,” the South African presidency said.
Decolonisation and self-determination
The visit is expected to solidify relations between Pretoria and the Saharawi Government, and reaffirm the South African support to the Saharawi people’s struggle for self- determination.
“South Africa remains steadfast in its support for the Sahrawi people’s inalienable right to decolonisation and self-determination, through a UN-supervised referendum, with the option of independence,” the South African Presidency said.
The visit comes at a time when Morocco has been on a charm offensive across the continent, in a push to return to the African Union that it left in 1984 when the Sahrawi Republic was admitted. Morocco, at the time, protested that Sahrawi was part of its monarchy.
Morocco invaded parts of Western Sahara in 1975 in complicity with the previous colonial power of the territory, Spain, what triggered a fierce guerrilla war with the Polisario Front, the liberation movement of the Saharawi resistance.
The African Union and the United Nations succeeded in brockering a peace plan in the nineties, and the UN established MINURSO as its peace-keeping mission in the territory with the mandate to organise a referendum on self-determination for the Saharawi people to chose between independence, integration with another state or autonomy.
Morocco, backed by France, pushed so far all the UN efforts to resolve this conflict to failure.