Diplomatic relations between Morocco and South Africa are starting to warm up after a 15-year frost, but it seems that not all South African officials are onboard with the change.
The minister gave the public statement during a memorial event at the Algerian embassy in the South African executive capital, Pretoria, on Monday, December 2.
Pandor was at the Algerian embassy for the memorial of Sghaiar Bachir, the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic’s (SADR) ambassador to Pretoria, who died last week.
In her speech, Pandor attacked Morocco and its claims of territorial integrity.
“In this 21st century, when many countries have gained their independence from oppressive colonialism, we still have a whole nation living in Tindouf camps, Algeria, and unable to enjoy their territorial rights,” said Pandor to a large audience.
A number of diplomats, politicians, journalists, and activists attended the event.
The South African official’s speech turned the meeting from a memorial into a political debate on Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.
The statement from the South African foreign minister is an illustration of the volatile relations between Pretoria and Rabat. South Africa is known for its opposition to Morocco’s position on the Western Sahara conflict, supporting the Polisario Front’s independence claims.
Bilateral relations have fluctuated since 2004, when Morocco recalled its ambassador to South Africa due to Pretoria’s decision to recognize the self-proclaimed SADR.
Amrani shared with Morocco World News his ambition to work on instilling Morocco’s “desire to reinforce bonds of friendship and cooperation between the two countries.” However, based on Pandor’s speech, his mission to convince South Africa to shift its position on the Western Sahara conflict may be challenging.