Ramaphosa continues to show his unabashed determination to challenge Morocco’s territorial integrity.
In a live broadcast on Facebook, Ramaphosa’s African National Congress political party (ANC) announced on June 5 the virtual launch of an anti-racism campaign to express solidarity with George Floyd, whose death sparked massive protests in the US.
The campaign seeks to show support for the “people of [the] USA” amid the protests and the police crackdown on demonstrators and journalists.
While anti-racism campaigns are ongoing around the world, Ramaphosa’s address was not only to express solidarity with victims of racial discrimination, but also a chance to recall his country’s hostile stance against Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara.
Ramaphosa and Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune are among a short list of officials who continue to make public remarks attempting to interfere in Morocco’s domestic affairs.
During his Facebook live address, the South African president recalled some of the most egregious violations of human rights around the world, such as the persecution of Muslims in Myanmar, the Rwandan genocide, and Israel’s ongoing violations against the Palestinian people.
Ramaphosa then moved to criticize Morocco without explicitly naming the country by defending the Polisario Front’s claims of independence.
“It is this toxic mix of chauvinistic economic interest and arrogance of racial, ethnic, and national superiority that stands in the way of the achievement of the independence of Western Sahara,” he said.
By inserting Western Sahara into a discussion of racism and human rights, Ramaphosa doubled down on his hostility towards Morocco, dashing any hopes for a thaw in the relations between the two countries in the foreseeable future.
The president’s recent remarks come on the heels of his Africa Day speech on May 25, when he abused his position as chairperson of the African Union (AU) to attack Morocco.
“As Africans, we will continue to stand on the side of justice and support the people of Western Sahara in their enduring struggle for freedom and self-determination,” Ramaphosa said, attacking both Morocco and its African allies.
His statement defied the legal framework of the AU, which has no hand in the conflict. The AU has continuously affirmed the exclusivity of the UN-led political process to find a mutually-acceptable and an agreed-upon political solution for the regional conflict.
Hostile remarks from South African and Algerian officials have tried but failed to cast a shadow on Morocco’s diplomatic achievements. Morocco has welcomed the support of several African states that have opened official diplomatic representations in Dakhla and Laayoune, signaling their recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty in Western Sahara.
Meanwhile, allies in the Americas and across Europe and Asia have reiterated their support for Morocco’s territorial integrity and condemned Polisario’s blatant exploitation of the dire humanitarian situation in Sahrawi refugee camps.