President Jacob G. Zuma arrived this morning, 5 December 2010, in Havana, capital of the Republic of Cuba, ahead of a State Visit scheduled for 6-7 December 2010

President Jacob Zuma arrived this morning, 5 December 2010, in Havana ahead of the State Visit to the Republic of Cuba from 6 - 7 December 2010. The visit takes place within the context of strengthening South South relations and exploring possible new areas of cooperation between the two countries.

South Africa is committed to consolidating bilateral political, economic and trade relations with Cuba with a focus on common positions on issues of mutual concern. The two countries forged strong political ties during the years of the struggle against both apartheid in South Africa and decolonization in Southern Africa.

Formal diplomatic relations were established in 1994. The 8th South Africa-Cuba Joint Consultative Mechanism was held in South Africa in July 2010 and the next will be hosted by Cuba in 2011. The Joint Bilateral Commission was established in 2001 and is one of the most significant agreements signed to date which provides the countries with a constructive forum through which bilateral cooperation can be conducted and enhanced. Through its bilateral relations with Cuba South Africa has benefited significantly. Of note is in the area of health, where Cuba seconds medical doctors to South Africa’s rural hospitals and trains South African medical doctors in Cuba. Other areas of benefit include cultural and academic exchange programmes, technology transfer and capacity building in the areas of energy generation.

Although bilateral trade remains low, there has been a steady increase in trade over the past few years. The two countries are working at a strategy to address the trade gaps. South Africa, therefore, calls on all countries to end the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed on the country. This position was supported by all members of the 15th Summit of the African Union (AU) held in Kampala earlier this year. In 2008 total bilateral trade between South Africa and Cuba stood at R98 million. In the wake of the global economic crisis, trade decreased to R27 million in 2009. South Africa has made several attempts to build trade and economic relations with Cuba.

South Africa and Cuba, as members of the developing world, are committed to advancing the Agenda of the South on the global stage. As a long-time friend and supporter of anti-colonial liberation struggles in Africa, Cuba shares with South Africa an interest in the African Union (AU) and African initiatives such as the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). South Africa and Cuba are active members of the Non- Aligned Movement (NAM) and G77 plus China. Both countries view NAM as a vehicle that developing member countries could use to establish critical consensus around fundamental issues such as poverty alleviation, debt reduction and sustainable development.

Both countries have similar approaches to the various issues collectively embodied in the South Agenda, which include increased cooperation between countries of the South and a redefinition of relations between North and South. They are committed to the reform of institutions of global governance, including the comprehensive reform of the United Nations (UN) which includes the expansion of the UN Security Council, to better represent the interest of developing countries. Cuba supported South Africa’s bid for the membership (on non-permanent basis) of the UN Security Council for the period 2011 – 2012.

The President is accompanied by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms M Nkoana-Mashabane; South Africa’s Ambassador to Cuba, Mr J Piitso; Minister of Home Affairs, Dr N Dlamini Zuma; Minister of State Security, Dr S Cwele; Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr R Davies; Minister of Health, Dr A Motsoaledi; and senior government officials.

President Zuma is also accompanied by a business delegation aimed at enhancing trade relations.

For more information, please speak to DIRCO’s Spokesperson, Mr Clayson Monyela, at 082 806 7405 or President Zuma’s Spokesperson, Mr Zizi Kodwa, on 082 330 4910.

Issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation
460 OR Tambo Building

5 December 2010

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