In a message of solidarity addressed last week by Botswana Land Boards Local Authorities and Health Workers (BLLAHWU) to the Saharawi Umbrella Trade Union, UGTSARIO, Secretary General, Ketlhalefile Motshegwa, reiterated his organisation’s support to the legitimate struggle for freedom and independence led since the early 1970s by the people of Western Sahara, the last colony in Africa.

Indeed BLLAHWU expressed unconditional “solidarity with the Saharawi people in defending their right to self-determination, which has been violated due to Morocco’s illegal annexation of Western Sahara”, calling on the occupying force “to respect the international law, and human rights and end its occupation of Western Sahara.”

This message of solidarity with Western Sahara is yet another voice coming from Botswana in support of the legitimate struggle of these North African brotherly people, who are still suffering from the illegal and brutal occupation by Morocco since 1975 after they had to suffer for decades the Spanish colonialism from 1884 to 1975.

Botswana government, led by BDP since independence, recognised the Saharawi Republic since the early 1980s and maintains diplomatic relations with the Saharawi government, expressing sound and principled support to the Saharawi right to self-determination and independence in the UN General Assembly, in the UN Fourth Committee on Decolonisation and within the relevant decision-making organs of the African Union.

But, the Botswana government is not the only one to adopt this position from the conflict, since opposition parties and Trade Unions are confirming the government stand, and they are doing it out of belief in the Pan African values that Botswana have always adopted in solidarity with all African nations that were struggling for freedom against foreign domination.

In this scope, BFTU had also voiced support to the people of Western Sahara on various occasions, and has even signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Saharawi Umbrella Trade Union, UGTSARIO, last October 2021 with the aim of “deepening the bilateral relations between the two formations regionally and internationally.”

Botswana National Front (BNF), one of the oldest opposition parties, also joined the cause and reiterated its principled stand on the conflict in a resolution adopted during its 18th Elective Congress held last 16 to 19 July, in which it “continues to condemn the colonisation of the peoples of the Republic of Western Sahara by Morocco and stand with the oppressed masses therein in their struggle for political and economic self-determination.”

On its side, the Secretary General of Botswana People’s Party (BPP), Nono Kgafela-Mokoka, reaffirmed her party’s firm stand in solidarity with the legitimate right of the people of Western Sahara to freedom and independence, during a courtesy call she paid to the Saharawi Embassy in Gaborone on the 3rd of August 2022.

The attention given to the struggle of the people of Western Sahara is well deserved, and legitimate, since most of the political parties and Trade Unions in Botswana have been following this struggle since the early seventies.

Their position, like the position of the Botswana Government, is totally legitimate and normal for a country like ours that has been besieged for decades by Apartheid regime from all sides.

Botswana couldn’t stand idle then, though our governments were very quiet in their support, and they cannot stay idle now too, especially that the Moroccan colonial dream is endangering not only the present and future of Saharawi, but that of the whole of Africa and the African Union.