Messahel Abdelkader et Lindiwe Sisulu

The influential South-African newspaper ‘Daily Maverick’ criticized on Tuesday South Africa’s position on Morocco’s territorial integrity, noting that “Pretoria still prefers to view the issue through a Cold War lens.”


Under the title “Morocco, the Western Sahara and SA’s inverted moral compass”, the paper noted that the number of African Union member-states recognising the so-called SADR has significantly shrunk, adding that Morocco’s return to the African Union has squeezed African support for the Polisario.


“Pretoria is portrayed as threatened by Morocco’s growing store of African engagements and investments,” the source said, noting that “the tide is moving in a different direction to Pretoria.”


“Morocco is increasingly an active investor in Africa, with a stake in the banking sector in more than 20 countries, to the extent that one in every three Dirham earned by the banking sector is from elsewhere in Africa,” it said, adding that Morocco’s Royal Air Maroc now flies to 24 African countries and has an ambitious expansion plan to match its new aircraft inventory.


The South-African newspaper highlighted “the impressive rate of development and growth” in the Moroccan Sahara region, noting that “Rabat has put substantially more into the region than it is taking out, a net inflow of several hundred million dollars into parks, schools, hospitals, sports facilities, highways, waste management and potable water, library and cultural centres, renewable energy generation, ports and airports.”


“Today Rabat is a modernising social and economic stand-out nation in what is, admittedly, a troubled region,” the paper noted, adding that “Algeria is the Polisario’s benefactor for reasons that have less to do with questions of principle and practices of human rights, where it has an uncertain record, at best.”


“The rivalry with Morocco lies at the heart of this struggle,” it said.


“Pretoria would do well to take a good look at the extent of these changes. It might even learn and possibly even gain something. Just imagine a codeshare agreement between struggling SAA and RAM, or an expansion of the successful Moroccan aerospace industrial model southwards?” it said, noting that “there are real benefits to be gained by South Africa from closer ties” with Morocco.