Jean-Jacques Cornish

Western Sahara confident of South African solidarity facing Moroccan aggression

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Breaking the COVID diplomatic lockdown, the ambassadors of 17 countries presented their credentials of President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House in Pretoria.

Social distancing was enforced as the envoys made short speeches expressing wishes of broadening and deepening bilateral relations with South Africa before presenting the president with the letters from their heads of state.

Some of the ambassadors managed to make powerful use of the two minutes allotted to them.

Sweden’s Håkan Joholt recalled how he’d become an anti-apartheid activist at age 25 before serving 23 years as a member of parliament.

“I have come here to build bridges and to forge people-to-people ties between Swedes and South Africans,” he said. “What we can do together is fight for democracy, human rights, peace and a sustainable environment,” he said.

Entering his second term as ambassador of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, Mohammed Beissat said Polisario and the ANC forged ties as liberation movements at the most difficult times for their countries.

He recalled how Oliver Tambo visited the Western Sahara and returned to South Africa with apartheid-built tanks captured by the Saharawi from the Moroccan.

“Now Mr President the Western Sahara faces fresh aggression from Morocco,” he said referring to the kingdom breaking the 30 year old truce signed under UN auspices that ended the war that followed Morocco’s 1975 invasion of the former Spanish colony.

“We are confident we can overcome yet another challenge from the illegal occupier, especially since we are assured of your support and the solidarity of your government and people,” said the ambassador.

Braving a heatwave that took the mercury into the thirties, the ambassadors were greeted by a guard-of-honour before entering the guest house to have their exchange with the President.

In addition to the Western Sahara and Sweden, Ramaphosa received credentials from the ambassadors of 

Vietnam, North Korea, Iran, Botswana, Cote’Ivoire, Bangladesh, Ukraine, Egypt, China, Sweden, Mauritius, Pakistan, Sudan and South Sudan, Slovenia, Finland.

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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.