Ramaphosa praised Muslims for Charity this week While he also received SADR president

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has had a busy week. But that hasn’t stopped him from reaching out to other communities within South Africa. Recently the president addressed the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) in Cape Town for the Ramadan Iftar. He praised the Muslim community for the selfless charity work they have engaged in.

He has spoken about how touched he felt about it. Certainly, there are various charities connected to South African Muslims such as Gift of the Givers Care Fund. The president had this to say:

“I have seen it, I have felt it, I have heard it and I have often touched it, because when I see the Muslim community at work, advancing the interests of people who are less [well] off. I am always so deeply, deeply impressed,” he said. Ramaphosa was addressing the Muslim Judicial Council in Cape Town for the Ramadan iftar – the evening meal when Muslims break their daily fast. He urged the Muslim community to support and join the ANC, saying the community was joined at the hip with the fortunes of the ANC. (Ramaphosa praises Muslim community)
The president clearly has been impressed by the influence of the Muslim community in helping combat poverty. The president certainly loves the work of good Samaritans in improving the lives of the destitute. The president had delivered his speech at the iftar – evening meal – when Muslims break the day time fast. The president claimed that he was deeply impressed by the charitable work of Muslim NGOs. Muslims has always been devoted to working for the betterment of others. But Ramaphosa’s recent overtures to the Muslim community call into question his motives.

 

President Cyril Ramaphosa performs prayer with Muslim leaders during the Muslim Judicial Council of South Africa
Image: Esa Alexander

This is a politician seeking to rebuild his popularity and that of his party ahead of elections after the disastrous era of his predecessor. And he also has been seeking influence in the diplomatic arena as well. Ramaphosa has met with the president of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) who actually leads the Polisaro Front which is fighting Morocco for Western Saharah.

South Africa formally recognized the SADR on September 15, 2004, and continues to support the inalienable right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination and independence. However, Morocco occupies the Western Sahara and doesn’t recognize SADR’s independence, while the international community is divided over recognition of what has been described as Africa’s last colonized state. Over the years, South Africa has extended material and technical support to the cause of the people of Western Sahara. The two countries have thus far concluded agreements in the fields of diplomacy, sports development, technical cooperation and humanitarian assistance. It is expected that the two heads of state will review bilateral cooperation between the two countries and exchange views on issues of common interest and mutual concern. (Ramaphosa to receive president of Arab Sahrawi Democratic Republic)

 

President Cyril Ramaphosa replying to questions from members of parliament, 8 May 2018. Picture: ANA

South Africa has also been seeking closer ties with Morocco however the North African Kingdom controls the Western Sahara which is rich in sulphate deposits but it now seems they are engulfed in economic turmoil. Morocco and Western Sahara are both in dire straits due to the poverty experienced by both the occupier and the occupied. Polisaro Front which leads the SADR provisional government, President Abraham Ghali may be looking to strengthen his self-proclaimed state’s recognition and diplomatic ties as Morocco is in a quagmire. Rabat claims that the Western Sahara territory is a historic part of its nation.

The Polisaro Front and its supporters disagree. It remains to be seen what Ramaphosa has to offer.