GANIEF HENDRICKS, leader of Al Jama-ah and a member of parliament, calls on the South African government and international community to intensify action over self-determination for the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (Western Sahara).
The people of Western Sahara deserve to have their voices heard.
Allowing and opening up democratic processes is the only way in which the will of the people can be determined in an area along Africa’s Atlantic coast that has a population of about 600 000 people, according to UN estimates.
The term of office of the Referendum Committee that was established by the United Nations is expiring at the end of October 2022. Al Jama-ah is concerned that the end of term could lead to the end of the ceasefire and the beginning of an armed struggle.
The recent visit to South Africa by Western Sahara’s president, Brahim Ghali, is very important as Western Sahara needs a two-thirds majority to extend the term of office of the referendum agreement.
Just as with the South African’s fight against apartheid, the people of Western Sahara have the power to end the unscrupulous occupation of a vast stretch of phosphate-rich desert that is controlled by Morocco. This occupation needs to be challenged.
The international community has long backed a referendum to be held to decide Western Sahara’s status but Morocco continues to reject any vote in which independence is an option. It wants to continue to defend its interests and use all the means at its disposal.
Now is the time for action and the end of the silence that persists in the world about the struggle for self-determination for the people of Western Sahara. Our volume against this oppression needs to increase and the messaging needs to be clearer. We need to be firm and unapologetic about our support for the Sahrawi people. Let the people’s voices be heard.
We not only support the call but are prepared to march in demonstration against this unjust occupation. Western Sahara needs backing and support to end this bullying that has been going on for years.
We would like to urge our president, Cyril Ramaphosa, to keep the promises made to President Ghali.
Just as in South Africa’s fight for liberation, lives have been lost and we need to silence the guns that have long caused havoc on our continent. We need to end this occupation of an African country by another African country. We cannot allow a situation where two African countries are at war with one another. This goes against the African Union’s vision for the United States of Africa.
Ganief Hendricks is Al Jama-ah party leader and a member of parliament.