Rabat - South Africa’s National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete visited Morocco for the second time to meet her counterpart, Habib El Malki, Friday in Rabat.
Rabat – South Africa’s National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete visited Morocco for the second time to meet her counterpart, Habib El Malki, Friday in Rabat.
Mbete and El Malki aimed to reinforce bilateral relations between the two countries. The meeting built on last year’s interaction between King Mohammed VI and former South African President Jacob Zuma in Abidjan.
Mbete declared that Morocco and South Africa both need to work for the strengthening of bilateral relation for the best interests of the countries’ peoples and also for the world. She congratulated Morocco for rejoining the African Union, and also expressed gratitude to Morocco as one of the first countries to support the struggle for the liberation of South African people.
Morocco had supported the African Liberation Movement and Nelson Mandela, who lived in Morocco between 1960 and 1962. King Mohammed VI paid homage to the late leader in September, stating that Mandela and the late King Hassan II had a sincere affection for each other. Back in 1995, Mandela thanked Morocco for providing funding, training, and weapons to the liberation movement.
El Malki insisted on Morocco’s determination to reinforce relations with South Africa and increase cooperation. He also expressed Morocco’s closeness to South Africa as the two countries have a common heritage and history of struggle.
El Malki also indicated the importance of now having a South African ambassador to Rabat and a Moroccan ambassador to Pretoria. After 12 years of diplomatic tension, Morocco had appointed an ambassador in Pretoria in 2016 upon joining the African Union. In 2004, Morocco cut diplomatic ties between the two countries after South Africa, under Thabo Mbeki’s government, recognized the Polisario Front.
The meeting also touched on Morocco’s autonomy plan for Western Sahara to reach an agreed upon and mutually acceptable solution to the conflict.
South Africa has been a supporter of the Polisario Front in the last decade or more, which soured relations with Morocco. Morocco recently called for the improvement of bilateral relations in the context of its new policy towards Africa. South Africa responded to the call but has not changed its position on the Polisario Front.
Mbete’s visit to Rabat comes only a few days after another South African diplomat visited the Tindouf camps in Algeria.