39 of 54 African countries recently endorsed colonialism. Morocco is now the 55th member state of the African Union after member states approved its readmission. It sounds like one positive story of unity in tandem with the vision of the founding fathers but there is a more complex backstory that needs to be closely analysed. Morocco was formally welcomed back into the AU after a 33 year absence from the continental bloc. The absence had come about in protest of the recognition of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic which Morocco still occupies to this day. By readmitting Morocco, the AU has unwittingly endorsed colonialism and the irony is not lost on the world. Naturally, revolutionary parties have spoken out against this readmission as it is not in line with what the AU was created for. 39 countries of 54 have openly endorsed a colonial power
To get what is probably the most accurate analysis of this move, one needs to go no further than Africa’s oldest revolutionary party, the African National Congress, which has said, “This decision represents a significant setback to the cause of the Sahrawi people and their quest for self-determination and independence in the Western Sahara. The Western Sahara is one of Africa’s last remaining colonial outposts… By readmitting Morocco the AU is tacitly endorsing the long-standing occupation of the Western Sahara. Morocco has to date failed to comply with successive UN resolutions on the issue of the Western Sahara, most importantly the holding of a referendum on self-determination.”
A senior South African official also said, “In our view this is a very unfortunate decision and I think the people of Western Sahara would be correct in interpreting this as a betrayal by the continent of their struggle.”
A number of countries in Southern Africa including South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique and Botswana voted against the readmission.
Zimbabwe’s President Mugabe also expressed his disappointment saying, “It is a matter of ideology, maybe they have not had the same revolutionary experience as all of us. Most of our countries in Africa are still too reliant on erstwhile colonizers for funding and they can’t stand against such motions. We will however continue to fight from within AU and the UN to the effect that it is not right to readmit Morocco before it concedes and recognize Western Sahara as an independent state.”
The Western Sahara is a former Spanish colony annexed in 1975 by Morocco. According to its BBC Profile, the territory is “under the de facto administrative control of Morocco” but “the status and sovereignty of Western Sahara remain unresolved and numerous direct talks have failed to break the political deadlock”. Morocco has defied the international community’s calls to allow the Saharawi people room to determine their own political future and that history goes as far back as the Green March of 1975 when 350,000 Moroccans marched into the region in defiance of a Hague ruling. It therefore comes as a surprise that a continental body supposed to champion African independence is now endorsing the opposite. Article 3(b) of the Constitutive Act of the African Union expressly lists defending the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of member states as an objective but somehow, this has been forgotten. Article 4(b) further calls for the respect of borders existing on achievement of independence but it seems Morocco just has to be the exception. The Zimbabwean Foreign Minister also weighed in on the situation arguing, “This is an issue that the AU must push because no member state can be in the organization without defined territorial boundaries that are recognized at international law. This is the situation that we are facing now with Morocco; they are a member without clearly defined borders that are recognized at international law. And to make it worse they are in occupation of a member state of the AU.”
The AU has become its own antagonist. It is now the biggest challenge to itself. Morocco’s financial power blinded the judgment of many states. With almost 20 economic agreements with countries like Rwanda and even more than that with Nigeria and Tanzania, it is not a wonder that a colonial power won the vote in what should be an anti-colonial Africa. African leaders have betrayed the founding fathers for money.