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Rabat and Pretoria : The Ramaphosa government says the ball is in Morocco's court

The South African government said earlier this week that Morocco is yet to answer a request of agreement submitted by Pretoria in 2004.

King Mohammed VI and former South African President Jacob Zuma./Ph. DR
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On Monday, the South African government said that Morocco has not answered yet a request of agreement sent by Pretoria 14 years ago for the normalization of diplomatic relations with Rabat, says South African online newspaper Eyewitness News. In fact, the country has set a condition for the return of a Moroccan ambassador to Pretoria, who was appointed by Rabat on August the 20th, during a Council of Ministers.

Mxolisi Sizo Nkosi, a senior official at the South African Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was the one to reveal the request of agreement drafted in 2004 to hinder the normalization of diplomatic ties between Rabat and Pretoria, as discussed by King Mohammed VI and the former South African President Jacob Zuma.

«The ball is in Morocco’s court if the kingdom wants to return an ambassador to Pretoria», wrote the same source. Speaking to reporters, Nkosi said that the Moroccan government has ignored for years the request submitted for the appointment of an ambassador in Rabat.

«The starting point for any normalization of relations between Rabat and Pretoria would have to be Morocco replying to the 14-year-old South African request», Mxolisi Sizo Nkosi told reporters on Monday.

South Africa’s request of agreement was presented on the same year when it decided to recognize the «Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic». The decision, at the time, irritated Morocco which relied on a Chargé d’Affaires to represent Rabat in South Africa.

The African National Congress

The recent statement of the Mxolisi Sizo Nkosi shows the two opinions South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress, has about maintaining diplomatic relations with Morocco. There are two main approaches : a pragmatic vision that encourages cooperation with the Kingdom and another one that leans towards the Polisario.

Indeed, before Nkosi mentioned the 2004 request, the Speaker of the South African House of Representatives Baleka Mbete visited Morocco on October the 19th.

Mbete is a powerful politician who held several senior positions in her country. Between September 2008 and May 2009, she was Deputy President of South Africa. She is also an influential member at the African National Congress (ANC), the ruling party in South Africa

In January, the South African Minister of Foreign Affairs was in Morocco. Maité Nkoana-Mashabane visited Rabat to take part in a ministerial conference on migration. It was the first official visit of a Foreign Minister from Pretoria to the Kingdom in 2018. In Rabat, Mashabane held talks with her Moroccan counterpart, Nasser Bourita.

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