More than an outright denunciation of the UN-led political process, the South African official’s statement reads like a call for war.
Rabat – South Africa’s Finance Minister Tito Mboweni seems to be troubled with the recent UN report, which put the spotlight on Polisario’s violations in restricted areas in the buffer zone.
On Twitter, Mboweni called for a forceful end to the Western Sahara dispute, arguing that the UN-led diplomatic efforts have been ineffective and mostly skewed in Morocco’s favor.
“Why in this day and age, one African country is allowed to colonize another,” he said in a tweet earlier this week..
Half-truths and longstanding hostilities
Like Algeria, South Africa is among the handful, decreasing number, of countries that still support the Polisario Front’s independence claims.
By defying Morocco’s attachment to its southern provinces and blatantly disregarding the historical facts proving Morocco’s sovereignty over the region, the two countries have continued to paint the Western Sahara issue as a “decolonization struggle.”
Algiers and Pretoria do not miss an opportunity to peddle hostile, erroneous statements about Morocco’s territorial integrity.
During the UN General Assembly in September, the leaders of both countries dedicated parts of their speeches to expressing support for the Polisario Front.
South Africa’s Cyeril Ramaphosa and Algeria’s Abdelmadjid Tebboune renewed their shared position on Western Sahara, saying they are determined to continue “standing up for justice” for the people of Western Sahara. They also claimed that their two countries’ support for Polisario aims to ensure Sahrawi “freedom” and “self-determination.”
In his tweet, Mboweni reiterated President Ramaphosa’s position. The new twist, however, is that the South African official went beyond the usual trick of peddling unevidenced, misleading claims about the Western Sahara conflict. Visibly looking to spark more outrage, Mboweni lambasted the UN’s “diplomacy thing.”
“This diplomacy thing is not working. Let us be loud and clear!!” he said.
More pointedly, though, Mboweni tweets can also easily come across as a call for a more radical, violent “decolonization” struggle against Morocco and its territorial integrity.
“Comrades in Arms! We need to conclude the Western Sahara issue. Our comrades! his dithering thing is unhelpful. Our People!”
The tweets come a few days after UN Secretary-General Antonio Gueterres issued a report on the situation in the Western Sahara.
The report, like the previous UN documents on the conflict, expressed concerns about the situation in the region amid violations by Polisario units of the UN-imposed ceasefire agreement. Even more concerning for the Polisario Front, the UN report listed over 50 violations by the group.
Among details of Polisario’s disregard for the status quo in some restricted areas in the region are constant reports of military provocations and traffic obstruction in Guerguerat, a town along the border between Morocco and Mauritania.
The region serves as a gateway from North to Sub-Saharan Africa.
Polisario’s frustration with MINURSO
While Guerguerat is under strict surveillance from MINURSO, the UN peacekeeping operation in Western Sahara, Polisario continues to disturb commercial traffic, prompting a response from the UN.
“The status of the buffer strip as a demilitarized zone remains a cornerstone of the ceasefire in Western Sahara,” Gueterres warned in his report.
The UN chief also commented on the deterioration of cooperation between MINURSO and Polisario.
As a result, neither Polisario nor its foreing backers warmed up to the report. As shown in South Africa’s Mboweni’s Twitter tirade against Morocco, the pro-Polisario camp sees the latest UN report as a reprehensible vindication of Morocco’s “illegal” position on Western Sahara.
Prior to the South African minister’s Morocco-bashing rant on social media, Polisario had lashed out at the UN report, describing it as the ultimate expression of a stagnating and pro-Morocco political process.
In a letter to the UN chief, Brahim Ghali, the “leader” of the Polisario Front, claimed that the UN document does not “reflect the reality” of the situation in Western Sahara. He also accused MINURSO of being a “passive bystander” and normalizer of Morocco’s “illegal” actions.