President Cyril Ramaphosa and President of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), Brahim Ghali. File picture: Ntswe Mokoena/GCIS.
Politics is a game of expendable interests and shifting alliances based on matters at hand. But when principle is subjected to the ever shifting notion of transient interests, then politics will rival gangsterism in its callousness. 

Principle brings sanity, engenders nobility and bestows respectability to politics.

It was a fervent adherence and affiliation to this principle that saw the overwhelming support of the South African struggle by the international community. Even the smallest countries dared the apartheid regime and suffered great setbacks and reprisals in pursuit of the moral principle of justice.

One of the last remaining African countries that faces colonial oppression and a brazen hegemony of a defiant state is Western Sahara. 

Under the leadership of the Polisario Front which was established in 1973, the people of Western Sahara have waged a gallant struggle against foreign domination and the foreign colonial tutelage of Morocco. 

In its zeal to repress, and in its tireless zest to cajole and coerce into submission the democratic will of the people of Western Sahara, Morocco has gone to maddening lengths and dizzying heights to impose her illegitimate rule. 

Thereby plunging deep its poisonous fangs against the will of the people of Western Sahara. Morocco has worked like a loyal stakhanovite to pursue this agenda and has opened wide her chest of gold to even buy those countries whose principles are on auction. 

To most of our surprise and dismay, these countries even number among our friends. 

In pursuit of her ill designs, Morocco has hosted a rival conference in her capital city ostensibly to steal the thunder, attention and focus away from the SADC Solidarity conference which will be held in Pretoria from the 24th to the 25th of March. 

To entice a number of countries to attend her nefarious conference and to be complicit to her designs, she has offered to pay  for all expenses and for all the imaginable emoluments. Envelope diplomacy is not for the faint hearted. 

Some countries have  opted to stay neutral, neither offending any party nor pleasing any, rather embracing fake neutrality in the face  of an injustice. 

Their heads are deep in the sand but their entire physiognomy is exposed. Other countries have been brow-beaten to an extent of lowering their delegation, almost looking incognito. 

Even Malawi, a country that we have just plucked from a cyclone disaster is queueing for the left-overs from the Moroccan alms by dishing our conference and jet-setting to that country. 

The decision to support Western Sahara has been taken in numerous international forums and bodies to be violated at the alter of colonial convenience. 

The SADC  inter-Ministerial meeting of the Organ on Politics, Defense and Security Cooperation resolved in its meeting of the 17- 21 July 2017, held in Tanzania, to convene a solidarity conference for the Western Sahara. 

The 37th Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government  held in Pretoria from the 19 -20 August ratified the decision. 

It was the 37th SADC Heads of State and Government conference held in Namibia that endorsed South Africa as the host of the Solidarity Conference.
 
The SADC position on Western Sahara is in tandem aligned and pursuant  to the litany of UN Resolutions that included, but was not limited, to the following: the UN General Assembly Resolution 1514 of 1960, the UN Security Council Resolution 690 of 1991, the OAU Resolution 92 of July 1978. OAU Resolution 103 of June 1981, and OAU Resolution 104 of 1983. 

Against all the false prophets and doomsayers, the people of Western Sahara will be free, and will attain their self determination.  

We are pleased by the number of principled countries that have agreed to pledge solidarity with the people of Western Sahara. 

The flowing countries will send senior representation and they include: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. SADC member states include DRC, eSwatini, Malawi, Mozambique, Seychelles and Mauritius. There will also be four non-SADC Heads of State, and eight who will send their ministers.

Civil society organizations that have confirmed include Cosatu, Human Rights Defender, SADC lawyer’s Association, SADC  Council of NGOs, SADC Parliamentary Forum, Pan African Foundation, African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD), National Youth Council of Namibia, Western Sahara Solidarity Forum. Political parties include the ANC, Swapo, ZANU-PF, FRELIMO, MPLA, Cosatu and SACP, to name a few.

South Africa has a moral and a historical obligation to sustain support for Western Sahara even in the face of thuggish conduct. 

South Africa knows better how it feels to suffer under colonial oppression. 

South Africa must become the moral compass that finds the path even in the turbulent sea. We cannot flirt and trifle with our loyalty to the oppressed people of Western Sahara. 

All props and bells and whistles have been  arraigned to receive these delegates and to strengthen our firm solidarity with the people of Western Sahara. 

We dare not fail them and we dare not equivocate in the  face of underhanded acts of desperation.

* Thami Ka Plaatjie is a member of the International Relations Policy Review Panel at Dirco.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.