Member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which attended a ministerial conference on the African Union's role in supporting the UN-led political process in Marrakech, defended their decision after snubbing a parallel meeting held in South Africa to support the Polisario Front.
Angola, Comoros, Madagascar, Malawi, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which sent representatives to Morocco to participate to the Kingdom’s own conference on the Western Sahara issue, have justified their attendance.
According to South African newspaper IOL, the SADC’s member states that accepted Rabat’s invitation «insisted that they were following an AU resolution passed in Mauritania last year», adding that they did not «snub the Pretoria Conference, which took place on Monday».
Questioning SADC's unity
Commenting on the Marrakech conference, the Swazilander Minister of Public Works Christian Ntshangase, who headed a delegation sent to Morocco earlier this week, said that his «presence in Morocco was in line with the UN framework in resolving the Western Sahara question», the same source reported.
«We are aware that there is another meeting in Pretoria, but we believe that this is the conference that would assist the UN to find a lasting and peaceful solution to this region», Ntshangase told the same source.
SADC member states’ justification comes after they were accused of neglecting the parallel conference that was chaired by Pretoria on the same day that Morocco hosted its meeting on the Sahara.
Voicing the anger of some SADC member states, the President of Namibia Hage Geingob questioned the unity of the regional organization. «Morocco organized another meeting to coincide with this solidarity conference, and some SADC members are there», he argued.
«Is SADC united ?», he wondered, adding : «Our aspirations as a continent won’t be achieved without the freedom of all of Africa’s people».
For the record, SADC's countries such as Angola sent a representative to Pretoria and, at the same time, assigned its ambassador to Rabat to attend the conference in Marrakech. Malawi, did the same thing, sending its Justice Minister to the SADC conference and its Foreign Affairs Minister to the Kingdom.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo followed the same strategy, sending one of its ministers to Pretoria and its deputy Foreign Minister to Morocco. Meanwhile, other SADC countries preferred to send delegations, only to Marrakech, including Comoros, Madagascar, Swaziland and Tanzania.
Even Zambia, which was quite hesitant on its recognition of the Polisario in last couple of years, was among the African countries that sent its Foreign Affairs Minister to the Kingdom.