The newly installed ambassador said that it constituted a “watershed” moment between the two countries. Morocco and South Africa have previously shared icy diplomatic relations.
Rabat – King Mohammed VI’s Ambassador Youssef Amrani handed his credentials to South African President Cyril Ramphosa on Tuesday, October 15. The president accepted the new ambassador’s credentials at an official audience in Pretoria.
The Moroccan ambassador told Morocco World News that he has the “immense privilege and the great honor to present to His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa the letter of Credence.”
He added that he conveyed King Mohammed VI’s “warm greetings and best wishes” to Ramphosa. He also expressed Morocco’s “desire to reinforce bonds of friendship and cooperation between the two countries.”
“Our two countries commonly agreed upon the necessity to achieve this ambition by deepening and reinforcing their historical relations, inherited from the years of struggle against apartheid,” Amrani told MWN.
Amrani is the first Moroccan ambassador to South Africa in 15 years. His installation reflects the warming diplomatic relations between South Africa and Morocco which have, historically, been icy. South Africa has a longstanding relationship with the Polisario Front. The African country’s position on Western Sahara has been an impediment to strengthening cooperation with Morocco.
However, November 2017 saw a change in the tensions between the two countries following a meeting between King Mohammed VI and then President Jacob Zuma at the European Union – African Union summit in Abidjan.
South Africa and Morocco, both big players on the African continent, share a commitment to developing bilateral relations with a view to achieving their joint pan-African vision. The two countries want to boost South-South cooperation on the continent and are working towards the 2063 AU agenda.
A forward-looking partnership
Speaking about the position of both Pretoria and Rabat in the African continent, Amrani emphasized that the two countries “are the largest investors in the continent and as regional hubs, they are called upon to play major roles in the African integration process through enhancing inter-African trade and investment to promote growth and shared prosperity through appropriate tools like the African continental free-trade area.”
Pretoria and Rabat were strong proponents of the Africa Free Trade Agreement. Upon implementation of the agreement in May of this year, former Moroccan Government Spokesperson Mustapha El Khalfi said, “The entry into force of the agreement will contribute to the implementation of the Royal Vision, based on the idea that Africa’s future is the work of the continent itself and its citizens, and that it is time to move forward on this path.”
In the spirit of moving forward, the new ambassador to South Africa reiterated Morocco’s commitment to its newfound friendship with South Africa and the development of the African continent.
The ambassador also shared his agenda of priorities with MWN, emphasizing that “intensifying” political dialogue with South Africa at the bilateral level is one of his priorities.
He also said that he seeks to “promote people-to-people relations by deepening exchanges in the areas of culture, education, food security, climate change, energy, and tourism.”