Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma is set to host the President of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Brahim Ghali, who is expected in the country on Friday for a working visit, the presidency has said in a statement.
"The visit is aimed at deepening and strengthening the already existing good political relations between the two countries, fortified by the strong historical ties dating back from the years of the struggle against colonialism and apartheid," the statement said.
The ANC led government has been one of the staunch supporters of the Saharawi people, fighting for independence from Morocco. Their struggle for independence is seen as the last anti-colonial struggle on the continent.
Talks between Morocco and Sahrawi are currently locked in a stalemate, a development condemned by Pretoria.
"The protracted suffering of the people of Western Sahara and the current impasse in negotiations towards finding a durable solution to the struggle for self-determination remains a major concern for the South African government and the continent of Africa," the presidency said.
Decolonisation and self-determination
The visit is expected to solidify relations between Pretoria and the Saharawi people’s struggle for self- determination.
"South Africa remains steadfast in its support for the Sahrawi people's inalienable right to decolonisation and self-determination, through a UN-supervised referendum, with the option of independence," the presidency said.
The visit comes at a time when Morocco has been on a charm offensive across the continent, in a push to return to the African Union that it left in 1984 when Sahrawi was admitted. Morocco, at the time, protested that Sahrawi was part of its monarch.
Morocco King Mohammed VI attended the AU summit in Kigali in July, as part of the country’s campaign to woo two thirds of the African Union to support its re-admission.
Morocco took over most of Western Sahara in 1975 from colonial Spain, starting a guerilla war with Sahrawi people's Polisario Front who say the desert territory on Africa's northwest belongs to them.
A United Nations Western Sahara mission known as MINURSO which has peacekeeping responsibilities in the region is also tasked with organising the long-delayed referendum over the future of the territory, including the question of independence.