OPINION

Fidel Castro remains an inspiration - ANC

Edna Molewa says bilateral trade relations between SA and Cuba continue to grow from strength to strength

ANC STATEMENT ON THE OCCASION OF THE 90TH BIRTHDAY OF THE LEADER OF THE CUBAN REVOLUTION, COMMANDANTE FIDEL CASTRO

 13 August 2016

The African National Congress (ANC) joins the peoples and revolutionary movements of the Global South in celebrating the 90th birthday of the great Cuban Leader and Revolutionary, Commandate Fidel Castro Ruz.

Comrade Castro is a longstanding supporter and friend of the ANC and the South African people, and remains a global icon for his commitment to internationalism and solidarity of the nations of the Global South.

Under his leadership, the Communist Party of Cuba and the Cuban people were among the strongest supporters of South Africa’s struggle for liberation; lending various forms of material and political support to the liberation forces during the dark days of apartheid.

Today the ANC reaffirms our solidarity with the Cuban people, who continue to suffer as a result of an illegal and inhumane commercial, economic and financial embargo stretching over 5 decades.

The occasion of the 90th birthday of this great leader comes as South Africa marks 20 years of bilateral relations with the Republic of Cuba, with party-to-party relations between the ANC and the Communist Party of Cuba stretching back even further.

South Africa and the Republic of Cuba enjoy a range of cooperation across a range of fields including knowledge exchange, trade and investment, and military cooperation.

Our two parties enjoy a long history of cooperation dating back to the anti-apartheid struggle, when Cuba led by Comrade Castro, lent invaluable military assistance not just to the ANC but also to other frontline states battling the might of the apartheid military apparatus.

In the 1960’s the first group of South African students arrived in Cuba for training in medicine and other sciences. Since then hundreds of South Africa medical doctors have been trained in Cuba as part of the government’s efforts to strengthen our public health system. As part of this successful programme the Republic of Cuba have also come to South Africa to serve in rural hospitals and clinics around the country. Cuba has also supported South Africa with engineers working in various fields in the country.

In September 1998 Comrade Castro visited democratic South Africa the invitation of President Nelson Mandela where he addressed a special sitting of the National Assembly. The speech was televised countrywide to a rapturous public reception.

He spoke of Cuba’s proud record in Africa, including thousands of Cuban soldiers on duty or fighting in Africa in various wars for independence. He said: “This is why we know better and appreciate the human qualities of the sons of Africa, much more than those who colonized and exploited this continent for centuries."

It was the Freedom Front and the then Democratic Party (now the Democratic Alliance) - parties that had sat in the apartheid parliament for decades, upholding and defending white privilege, that decided to boycott the sitting, denouncing the great revolutionary that was an icon to millions of South Africans as a ‘terrorist’.

These objections notwithstanding, there was overwhelming public support for Compañero Fidel’s visit from all sectors in South Africa; who were thankful for Cuba’s contribution to South Africa’s freedom struggle – and to freedom struggles across the continent.

The ANC is pleased to say that bilateral trade relations between South Africa and the Republic of Cuba continue to grow from strength to strength.

In 2010 President Jacob Zuma visited Cuba where he pledged an R350m economic assistance package to the country, particularly to assist with agricultural and infrastructure development. Further agreements aimed at stimulating trade between the two countries have subsequently been signed.

Through the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC) South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) continues to engage with the Republic of Cuba with a view of strengthening political and trade ties.

Compañero Fidel’s leadership remains an inspiration to revolutionary movements worldwide committed to the values of egalitarianism and social justice for all.

As President Nelson Mandela said at the time of Comrade Castro’s visit to South Africa: we would not enjoy freedom today were it not for “Cuba’s selfless support for the struggle to free all of South Africa’s people and the countries of our region from the inhumane and destructive system of apartheid.”

The African National Congress continues to draw inspiration from his leadership. May he have a long life!

 La Batalla de Ideas Continua!

 ¡Hasta la Victoria Siempre! 

Vas bien, Fidel

Statement issued by Edna Molewa, Chairperson: ANC NEC Sub-Committee on International Relations, African National Congress, 13 August 2016