PUSL.- The SADC Ministers Solidarity Conference with Western Sahara will serve to remind the region that Africa will not be truly free until the last colony, the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, is decolonised, says International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.
Sisulu made the remarks while welcoming guests on the first day of the two-day conference in Pretoria on Monday.
The preparatory meeting by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Ministers and participating Ministers from other regions took place ahead of the SADC Solidarity Conference with Western Sahara by Heads of State and Government scheduled for today.
Speaking at the opening of the Conference Sisulu said: “This conference is the realization of a formally adopted resolution initiated by the SADC Council of Ministers in July 2017 in Tanzania, and binding on all of us. SADC hopes to come up with concrete steps in which we can strengthen and support the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination. It is this kind of solidarity and support for the people of Western Sahara that must give courage and impetus to their struggle for self-determination.”
“It is incorrect to repeat regular references to our continent as ‘post-colonial’, when the people of Western Sahara are not free.
This conference is a clear demonstration of our international solidarity with the Saharawi people in their quest for self-determination.
“Most of us here have attained our freedom, strengthened and assisted by the solidarity of people who cared about our plight. We knew that every country has an inalienable right to independence and self-determination,” said Sisulu.
More than 20 countries are represented at the SADC Solidarity Conference with Western Sahara. The countries include Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Algeria, Uganda, Botswana, Nigeria, United Kingdom, Cuba, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Malawi, Eswatini, Mauritius, Tanzania, Seychelles, Kenya, Venezuela, Sao Tome and Principe, Timor-Leste, as well Western Sahara.
Representatives from many of the region’s liberation movements were also in attendance, including Swapo, Zanu-PF, Frelimo, MPLA, ANC, and SACP.
“We as South Africans are honored to host this conference as South Africa is itself a product of international solidarity. Let the people of Western Sahara leave this conference with the knowledge that we are fully behind them,” she said.
Namibia was the co-host of the solidarity conference, and the Namibian deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah addressed participants: “It is important that we host this conference in the land of Nelson Mandela.
“Such solidarity sustained us in our liberation struggle, and we need to consolidate peace on African continent.”