The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has been divided over the case of Morocco and the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (Western Sahara).
SADC leaders met in South Africa on Tuesday to express solidarity with Western Sahara, which is under Morrocan occupation.
Angola, Madagascar, Zambia, Malawi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) were not represented in South Africa, rather, they attended a parallel summit convened by Morocco.
Speaking at the meeting in Pretoria, South Africa, SADC chairman Hage Geingob, the president of Namibia said:
We were told there is another meeting in Morocco and some SADC members are there. So we must ask if SADC is united in its support for freedom for Saharawi people, or do we need a new approach?
… The decolonisation of Africa will not be complete until the day the people of Western Sahara decide the fate of their future status, through a free and fair referendum.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said:
We cannot but be moved by the plight of the Saharawi people. It has been 43 years since Western Sahara was annexed.
For four decades the people of Western Sahara have had to endure dispossession, displacement, conflict and deprivation of their liberties.