Freedom group wins fertiliser case
Morocco’s state run company OCP has accused South Africa of ‘‘political piracy’’ over a US$5 million shipment of phosphate bound for New Zealand.
OCP has decided to stop continuing with a court case to try and win back the Ballance AgriNutrients 54,000 tonne shipment, which has now been detained for more than 70 days in Port Elizabeth.
The vessel Cherry Blossom has been held up by an application from the Polisario Front, which seeks the independence of Western Sahara. Morocco considers the disputed region belongs to it, and has proposed it be granted autonomy but not independence.
Ballance chief executive Mark Wynne said the decision by OCP was a ‘‘pragmatic solution’’ because the case could have dragged on in the court for months if not years. ’’The cargo is destined for us but we don’t own it so OCP will be the loser in this situation. The financial implication for us is around the vessel because we have to pay for it, but because we are covered by insurance the impact is zero.’’
He vowed Ballance would continue to buy fertiliser that was mined in the contested region. ’’Legally and ethically we are comfortable with buying it, and the Moroccans will continue to mine it.’’
Wynne said he envisaged the cargo would be given to Polisario by the court, and it was likely it would go back on the market, enabling the vessel to be released. The case had not resolved the geopolitical issue which had to be decided on by the United Nations. There was a long drawn out process occurring with no easy resolution.
OCP accused the South African judiciary of having passed ‘‘an eminently political decision and committed a gross abuse of power.
Morocco and the Polisario fought for control of Western Sahara from 1974 to 1991, when Morocco took over the desert territory before the signing of a UN-brokered ceasefire.
The vessel Cherry Blossom before it was detained in South Africa.