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Ladies and Gentlemen.
I bring you greetings of peace, justice and human rights for all.
Since Spain ceded any claim over the region, the United Nations has been adopting declarations on Western Sahara.
That the former colonial power extricated itself from control over the area and washed its hands of the future determination of the area was both convenient and an aberration of history.
South Africans are themselves victims of colonial occupation and its machinations that wreak havoc with the lives of peoples and rewrite so to speak the trajectory of a nation’s development. It therefore ranks high on the scale of impossibility for us to remain silent in the face of injustice and occupation.
The African National Congress (ANC) in 2017 adopted a resolution on Western Sahara that demands the right to self-determination and the longstanding promise of a referendum.
At the ANCs 6th National Policy Conference HE President Cyril Ramaphosa declared that: “We cannot rest while Western Sahara remains under occupation.” That is our commitment and its a position that we will unequivocally hold on to until the Saharawi Republic is liberated and free to pursue its own self-determination.
Our petition today in this important forum is not to recount a historical narrative of the brave struggle of the Saharawi people nor remind anyone of the obligations under international law.
I speak firstly as a human being standing in solidarity with my brothers and sisters in the Saharawi Republic along with all freedom loving people of the world who are abhorred by this grave injustice. Justice delayed is Justice denied.
Secondly, I speak to you as an African for whom the very thought that in this 21st century we can still countenance colonial occupation on our beloved continent is a disgrace and a shame that must be eradicated. We must as a collective work together to set matters right and through forums such as this ensure that the fight for the decolonization of Africa’s last colonial outpost is brought to a speedy end.
I stand before you as a grim reminder of the end of 350 years of colonial occupation and the brutal oppression of the Apartheid regime in my beloved country South Africa. We triumphed because our cause was just and we stood resolutely even against the imperialist powers in the West who supported the Apartheid regime to the hilt.
We know with certainty that the Saharawi people will triumph against all odds for history always favours a just cause and honours the sacrifices of generations of brave fighters in the Polisario Front and the Saharawi people in general. We will stand by you until freedom dawns.
We demand that Morocco relinquishes its imperialist ambitions in Western Sahara and end the occupation now. We demand an immediate end to the occupation. We demand the release of all political prisoners languishing in Moroccan jails. We demand that the long promised referendum on self-determination be implemented without further delay.
Freedom cannot be imprisoned and the truth cannot be concealed. Justice shall prevail and we shall continue to mobilise the international solidarity movement in support of the struggle for Western Sahara.
I thank you!
Hon. Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, MP. Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform & Rural Development Parliament of South Africa.