El Malki urged Morocco and South Africa to look to the future and go beyond superficial problems.
Rabat – The speaker of Morocco’s House of Representatives (lower house), Habib El Malki, expressed his hope to see Morocco and South Africa build exemplary parliamentary relations.
The politician’s statements came on Monday, March 2, during a meeting with Masondo Amos Nkosiyakhe, Chairperson of South Africa’s National Council of Provinces Party, in Rabat.
El Malki affirmed the willingness of the lower house to strengthen cooperation between Moroccan and South African legislative institutions.
The Moroccan MP emphasized the “common memory of the struggle against the apartheid regime,” recalling the historic meeting in 1994 between Nelson Mandela and the late King Hassan II in Morocco.
Morocco, a founding member of the Organization of African Unity and one of the first signatories of the African Free Trade Agreement, “is resolutely committed to joint African action and economic integration in the continent,” El Malki said.
“Parliamentary institutions have an important role to play in making [the African FTA] a reality,” he added.
El Malki went on to urge Morocco and South Africa to look to the future and go beyond superficial problems.
“Africa needs strong states and active civil society, but also democratic transition and respect for human rights,” he maintained.
Meanwhile, Amos Nkosiyakhe expressed his gratitude to Morocco for the support it gave to the South African people in their struggle against apartheid.
After reiterating his country’s commitment to democracy, the South African official called for stronger trade and economic exchanges throughout the continent.
“We share many things and we are optimistic about the possibility of overcoming the obstacles to the development of the continent,” Amos Nkosiyakhe said.
Morocco, South Africa, and the Western Sahara question
Bilateral relations between the two countries have fluctuated since 2004 when Morocco recalled its ambassador to South Africa due to Pretoria’s decision to recognize the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).
In October 2019, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa received the first Moroccan ambassador to South Africa in 15 years, Youssef Amrani.
Two months later, the South African minister of international relations and cooperation, Naledi Pandor, gave a speech at the Algerian embassy directly questioning Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.
“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 during the memorial service of Sghaiar Bachir, the SADR’s so-called ambassador to Pretoria.
Earlier this year, the South African Football Association (SAFA) withdrew from the FUTSAL Africa Cup of Nations competition in Laayoune, Southern Morocco.
SAFA called Laayoune a “disputed region.”
Meanwhile, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has pledged his country’s continued support to breakaway group the Polisario Front.
However, Amrani insists that Rabat and Pretoria can—and should—still maintain strong bilateral relations.
In a January 2020 interview with SABC Digital News, Amrani stood by his firm belief in Morocco and South Africa’s “African responsibility.”
The ambassador called for both countries to work together for stability and socio-economic prosperity at the continental level.
“My main mission is to build up a strong partnership with South Africa. We are two major African countries in the continent, Morocco in the North and South Africa,” he said.
“In this context, we should work on how we should work together to build a more secure and more prosperous Africa.”