Shannon Ebrahim

Sunday Tribune - - NEWS&VIEWS -

would have ex­pected in the 1980s – that avid golf play­ers would have had enough of a con­science to re­strain them­selves from play­ing at Sun City un­til the masses in South Africa had won their free­dom.

But how many South Africans even re­alise that revo­lu­tion­ary con­scious­ness should pre­clude them from hol­i­day­ing in Mar­rakesh?

At an of­fi­cial level any­way, South Africa con­tin­ues to be the torch bearer for a strug­gle that is mired in in­dif­fer­ence.

But how­ever “un­sexy” the Saharawi strug­gle may seem, it is to South Africa’s credit that it takes such strong po­si­tions on prin­ci­ple and in the name of hu­man rights.

When Ramaphosa de­liv­ered his ANC Jan­uary 8 state­ment, he had specif­i­cally re­ferred to West­ern Sa­hara as one of the ANC’S for­eign pol­icy pri­or­i­ties. As pres­i­dent, he is liv­ing up to that com­mit­ment.

This week Ramaphosa hosted Pres­i­dent Brahim Ghali of the Saharawi Arab Demo­cratic Repub­lic in Pre­to­ria.

Few may have taken cog­ni­sance of the sig­nif­i­cance of this visit, which was cloaked in revo­lu­tion­ary sol­i­dar­ity, no less than if the pres­i­dent of the Pales­tinian Author­ity had been ush­ered down the red car­pet. Ramaphosa didn’t hes­i­tate to em­phat­i­cally say to his coun­ter­part: “Our free­dom and your free­dom are in­di­vis­i­ble.”

The two agreed to deepen re­la­tions and strengthen co-op­er­a­tion, with South Africa even go­ing as far as to pledge hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance to help the Sa­harawis in refugee camps.

Ramaphosa also ex­pressed con­cern for on­go­ing hu­man rights abuses by the Moroc­can author­i­ties.

At a pol­icy level, the two pres­i­dents agreed that with the ad­mis­sion of Morocco into the African Union, it has an obli­ga­tion to ad­here to the prin­ci­ples and goals en­shrined in the AU Con­sti­tu­tive Act, es­pe­cially the need to re­spect colo­nial bor­ders as they ex­isted at the time of in­de­pen­dence.

In Jan­uary the AU passed a res­o­lu­tion call­ing on both par­ties to en­gage with­out pre­con­di­tions in di­rect and se­ri­ous talks to end con­flict.

The con­tin­ued de­lay in find­ing a so­lu­tion to the con­flict has dire hu­man­i­tar­ian con­se­quences for the peo­ple, and is an im­ped­i­ment to greater re­gional in­te­gra­tion and se­cu­rity co-op­er­a­tion in the re­gion.

SA sup­ports both the AU and the UN’S call for an end to the il­le­gal ex­plo­ration and ex­ploita­tion of the nat­u­ral re­sources of the West­ern Sa­hara, and dis­cour­ages for­eign com­pa­nies from en­gag­ing in such ac­tiv­i­ties.

Our po­si­tion is that the AU must im­ple­ment its de­ci­sion to lead an in­ter­na­tional cam­paign against any com­pa­nies and multi­na­tion­als in­volved in such ex­ploita­tive prac­tices.

More re­cently, we have man­aged to turn our sol­i­dar­ity with the Saharawi cause into some­what of a tan­gi­ble boy­cott.

The South African gov­ern­ment is not in favour of the South African Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion back­ing

Morocco for the 2026 Soc­cer World Cup. This week the Safa Coun­cil de­cided not to back Morocco.

This means Morocco won’t have a united African bid be­hind them, de­spite the fact that they have tried to buy the sup­port of Africans.

The Moroc­cans were re­ly­ing on the Con­fed­er­a­tion of African Foot­ball Pres­i­dent Ah­mad to sup­port their bid. The Moroc­cans had backed Ah­mad with gen­er­ous grants for CAF events to en­sure all 54 African states would vote for them. It seems their cam­paign has failed.

As they say, the strug­gle con­tin­ues.

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