Defend it all you want, but the toothless African Union has sold out Western Sahara by allowing Morocco back into its fold so easily, despite years of criticism over its continued occupation of the Saharawi people. Morocco quit OAU in 1984 after the bloc declared Western Sahara as a State on its own, funny enough, the same reason that forced Morocco to quit 33 years ago still stands yet it was welcomed back with open arms.
In fact, Morocco’s continued occupation of Western Sahara is in defiance of the United Nations, International Court of Justice and much of the international community for the past four decades.
SADC states such as Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe who opposed Morocco’s re-admission into the AU fold must be commended for standing their ground.
Their firmness clearly highlights the difference between southern and northern Africa.
SADC is a region of peace and stability, in fact, most SADC states gained their independence after decades of oppression, similar to what Western Sahara has to endure.
I have attended several continental meetings, and one thing I have observed during those meetings is the fact that the voice of SADC is hardly taken seriously. The upper side of the continent always has the power to sway the direction of any debate or conversation. Customary to his personality, as soon as President Robert Mugabe touched down in Harare, he drew his guns and attacked those who supported Morocco’s return.
Mugabe accused some African leaders of lacking of ideology expressed his disappointment of the summit outcome. “They (African leaders) have not had the same revolutionary experience as some of us and there is too much reliance on their erstwhile colonisers. We will still fight and see whether in fact Morocco is abandoning its occupation of parts of Sahrawi,” he added.
President Mugabe also insinuated that African countries that supported Morocco’s re-admission were swayed by donor money.
Mugabe has his faults and many will use those faults to cast aside his words, but be that as it may, the truth in his observation cannot be diluted in any way.
It is a perplexing arrangement, Western Sahara is recognized by 84 countries and it forms part of the AU while Morocco-this is the same as having two bulls in one kraal.
Morocco continues to avoid referendum talks on whether the people of Western Sahara want to rule themselves or continue living under the rule of Morocco.
Morocco even went as far as proposing to give Western Sahara partial freedom in exchange for recognition.
The AU has been sitting on its laurels for too long while one of its own has been enduring tough times and being oppressed.
Namibia is one of the many countries that has condemned Morocco’s illegal occupation of Western Sahara, a move worth applauding, but how did we vote at the Summit?
Many are speculating that while culturally Morocco’s identity aligns with Arab states, its economic interests increasingly lie in Africa.
This is a strategic move[AU return] to continue exploring its interests in mining, construction, medical, insurance and banking sectors on the continent.
The Namibian government reiterated that strict conditions should be set, and it came as no surprise this week when Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah saying “Morocco should cease its occupation of Western Sahara”.
“Morocco wants to return to AU but they are still occupying Western Sahara, if they are to be allowed back into the AU fold there should be strict conditions attached to it,” she said on Monday when she met the diplomatic corps accredited to Namibia.
Namibia has not shied away from supporting the people from Western Sahara over the years, with Government at several international gatherings demanding the implementation of resolution 1514 on Western Sahara. Namibia has often lamented the UN’s reluctance to commit itself and ensure the implementation of the resolution 1514 on Western Sahara.
The 1514 resolution issued by the United Nations General Assembly in 1960, provides for the granting of the right to self-determination for the colonized peoples and countries.
Western Sahara and Namibia, as well as the two movements “SWAPO and Polisario Front” have friendship ties and diplomatic relations since June 1990.
As Africa pursues its 2063 Agenda, everyone on the continent needs to understand that such an agenda will hold no substance if all African nations are not guaranteed peace, self-determination, stability as well as economic emancipation.
The course for a united Africa should be one of mutual respect, assistance and not oppression.