The concerns of South African government officials regarding Morocco’s recent readmission to the AU were outlined in an article published Tuesday by Johannesburg-based newspaper Daily Maverick.
Saying the decision was “bad news for South Africa,” the article quoted one South African official who called it “a regrettable decision” due to the country’s long-standing opposition to what they referred to as the North African kingdom’s “colonial” activities.
Morocco was readmitted to the pan-African governing body during the 28th annual AU summit at the end of January following King Mohammed VI’s extensive campaign to strengthen economic and political ties with AU nations.
South Africa, a historic supporter of the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, voted against Moroccan reentry to the AU. Following the vote, the African National Congress (ANC), the governing political party of South Africa, issued a statement calling the decision “regrettable,” claiming that “by readmitting Morocco the AU is tacitly endorsing the long-standing occupation of the Western Sahara.”
While admitting Morocco’s “comprehensive” support within the AU, with 39 out of 54 countries voting to readmit the North African kingdom, the article claimed that the move may “widen continental divisions, and reduce the AU’s effectiveness.”
Quoting Solomon Dersso, South African scholar commissioner at the African Commission of People’s and Human Rights, the author warns that Morocco’s reentry into the pan-African governing body will exacerbate the continent’s “existing fault lines,” specifically those lying between Morocco and South Africa’s long-standing support for the SADR. However, the article admits that Morocco did not make the expulsion of the SADR part of its bid to return.
The author attributes Morocco’s successful return to the country’s “deep purse and political muscle,” referring to King Mohammed VI’s recent campaign to strengthen ties with AU countries and become a major economic player within the continent. With the fifth largest nominal GDP in Africa, he writes, Moroccan economic support of the AU would help relieve the body’s “uncomfortable reliance” on European Union funding, which makes up 72% of its budget.
Lamenting “Morocco’s recent success as coming at South Africa’s expense,” the author concludes that, if African politics are still a zero-sum game, it is at least “a game that Morocco is winning.”