It’s difficult to understand why the Zambian government of Edgar Lungu has abandoned its support for the Polisario Front and is today trying to forge very close ties with colonialist Morocco.
Morocco withdrew from the African Union’s predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), 32 years ago in protest of the group’s support for the Polisario Front and the OAU’s recognition of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.
The OAU, now the AU, was founded with a strong anti-colonial agenda. Morocco, as a colonialist state, found itself isolated and decided to leave the OAU. The question that arises now is: why does Morocco want to come back to the AU when most of the AU member countries support the independence of the Polisario Front and recognises the Sahrawi Democratic Republic? Our simple and only explanation is that Morocco has felt the impact of isolating itself and now wants to come back, bribe a few corrupt African leaders and argue the issue of the Sahrawi Democratic Republic from within the AU.
We are aware that Morocco is counting on the support of some 16 reactionary African countries, including Zambia, to withdraw their recognition of the Sahrawi Democratic Republic and form a front to expel to expel it from the AU. However, that won’t happen because international law doesn’t operate like that and there is no provision for that in the AU Charter.
We know money has been exchanging hands to give Morocco the support it needs to expel the Sahrawi Democratic Republic from the AU. But despite this corruption, the AU Commission reaffirmed its support for Western Sahara’s independence.
It is a disgrace for Zambia that has been a centre for the continent’s liberation to turn its back on the Polisario Front and corruptly support Morocco’s colonialism. We should feel ashamed as Zambians that despite Egypt and Tunisia’s links to Morocco by virtue of a common Arab identity and geographic location, the two countries refused to support the suspension of the Sahrawi Democratic Republic from the AU.
Algeria, an Arab country and a neighbour of Morocco, also rejected the attempt to suspend the Sahrawi Democratic Republic’s membership, making it clear that “demanding the Sahrawi Democratic Republic to leave is impossible. Algeria does not have any problem with Morocco returning to the AU, as long as it does so without conditions” of the membership of the Sahrawi Democratic Republic being suspended.
How can Zambia, of all countries, cut its ties with the Polisario? What principles is the Zambian government pursuing in this regard?
It seems that Morocco’s new political and diplomatic orientation to return to the AU not only expresses its desire to exercise influence within the African institution, but also highlights a political manoeuvre through which Morocco is trying to undermine and restrict the Sahrawi Democratic Republic since some countries have over the past 10 years been bribed to withdraw their recognition of it. But this is bound to open a new chapter in the Moroccan dispute over Western Sahara and Zambia is making a very big mistake to be on the wrong side of history, the reactionary and corrupt side of history. This raises the question of what principles today govern Zambia’s international relations. It is very embarrassing for a people that have throughout their pre and post independence history supported decolonisation to be found on the side of colonisers just because that benefits some people in power.
Our fellow human beings in the Sahrawi Democratic Republic suffering the pangs of Moroccan oppression, injustice and colonialism need our support.
It is shameful that a country like Zambia that was principally instrumental in the continent’s decolonisation process should today throw to the wind the very principles upon which its foreign policy was shaped over the last five decades. It would be better for Zambia to declare publicly that it is no longer opposed to colonialism than to continue to masquerade as a liberator. Let them leave that glorious liberation history to Dr Kenneth Kaunda and others who sacrificed everything for the continent’s independence.
Dr Kaunda believed that Zambia can never really feel free, completely free, as long as the people of Western Sahara live under Moroccan colonial bondage.
The issue of the Polisario Front exposes the lack of principles, baseness of those who govern our country today. We say this because there is no good reason that our government can advance for its withdrawal of the recognition and support of the Polisario Front and the Sahrawi Democratic Republic. Here, we see political corruption in its most crude form, nakedly trading the independence of the Sahrawi Democratic Republic for money from Morocco. It’s shameful that our leaders today have allowed themselves to be guided not by the noble principles of the anti-colonial struggles but by the their financial interests.
Progressive Zambians should oppose our government’s corrupt collusion with the colonial state of Morocco which totally destroys our anti-colonial history. We are a country of liberators and we have never taken the side of the oppressors, the colonisers. If Morocco wants to be our friend, they must abandon their colonial ambitions over the Sahrawi Democratic Republic.