Joint Communiqué of the 15th Session of the Joint Consultative Mechanism between South Africa and Cuba

1. South Africa and Cuba held the 15th Joint Consultative Mechanism (JCM) Meeting in Pretoria on 5 September 2019. The JCM provides for annual meetings Co-chaired by the Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the two countries in order to discuss Bilateral Relations, Regional and Multilateral Issues, against a background of solid bilateral ties and with the aim of further strengthening relations and expanding cooperation.

2. Mr Alvin Botes, the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa, hosted the JCM. The JCM was Co-chaired by the First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba, His Excellency Marcelino Medina González.

3. During their opening remarks the Deputy Ministers affirmed the importance of deepening the strategic partnership between South Africa and Cuba as the two countries celebrate 25 years of mutually beneficial diplomatic relations and constructive interaction at both bilateral and multilateral level.

4. The imminent unveiling of a bust of former President Mandela in African Founders Park in Havana to be undertaken by an executive member of the South African government  and the attendance of the 500th anniversary celebrations of Havana in November this year, were also discussed.

5. The Deputy Ministers acknowledged the need to develop stronger and mutually beneficial economic and commercial relations to match the depth of diplomatic and political relations between the two countries. In this regard, the two sides acknowledged the significant contribution of the Economic Assistance Package to Cuba under the auspices of the Agreement on Economic Assistance.

6. Furthermore, the two parties agreed to exchange information on the economic and business environments and trade and investment opportunities in both countries, to exchange business delegations and to facilitate the participation of business delegations in major exhibitions in both countries.

7. The Deputy Ministers noted with satisfaction progress made since the 14th JCM held in Havana on 17 and 18 October 2017 in the implementation of bilateral agreements and technical cooperation in many areas, including Health, Human Settlements, Public Works, Infrastructure, Water Resource Management, Sanitation and Basic Education, among others. Deputy Minister Botes cited the deployment of Cuban doctors, engineers and technical experts in all the provinces of South Africa rendering important services, as a demonstration of Cuba's commitment and as an example of South–South cooperation.

8. The important achievements of the SA-Cuba Agreement on Cooperation in the Fields of Public Health and Medical Sciences were highlighted. It was noted that 732 South Africans, many from previously disadvantaged communities, who received their first 5 years of medical training in Cuba, have qualified as doctors since the inception of the Nelson Mandela/Fidel Castro training programme in 1997. Many others continue receiving medical training in Cuba, and will also provide in the coming years much needed primary healthcare services to their local communities.

9. Deputy Minister Botes noted with appreciation the announcement that the Ministry of Public Health of Cuba has accepted to grant scholarships to 15 students from the North West province to study medicine in Cuba as part of the Nelson Mandela/Fidel Castro scholarship programme for the course starting 2019-2020.

10. The programme for the deployment of Cuban doctors in South Africa was also discussed and the current deployment of 221 Cuban doctors in 8 of SA’s 9 provinces, mostly in rural areas, was noted. The training of South African students in Cuba and the delivering of services by Cuban doctors in South Africa, will continue under the auspices of the agreement, which was renewed on 3 March 2019. Future collaboration in areas such as Pharmaceuticals, Exchange of Academics and Maintenance and Repairs of equipment was deliberated on.

11. The Deputy Ministers further agreed to facilitate the conclusion and implementation of agreements in other equally important fields such as Agriculture, Sport, Arts and Culture, Higher Education, ICT and Transport.

12. The Deputy Ministers exchanged views on major developments in their regions and discussed multilateral issues of mutual interest and affirmed the importance of deepening cooperation on regional and multilateral issues, through South-South partnerships such as the Africa-Latin America partnership, NAM, and G77 plus China and the UN system in order to promote regional peace and sustainable development priorities and to collectively advocate for a peaceful, just and equitable global governance system.

13. The Deputy Ministers noted that the present global scenario presents great challenges as a result of, inter alia, growing resort to unilateralism and unilaterally imposed measures that undermine the UN Charter and International Law, and further emphasized the commitment of South Africa and Cuba to promoting, preserving and strengthening multilateralism and the multilateral decision making process, by strictly adhering to the Charter of the United Nations and International Law.

14. First Deputy Minister Medina extended congratulations for the election of South Africa to hold the chairship of the African Union in the year 2020 and wished every success in that important responsibility.

15. On the situation in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Deputy Ministers pledged solidarity with the people and Constitutional Government of president Nicolás Maduro Moros in Venezuela, calling for the immediate end of the unilateral sanctions imposed by the government of the United States, and reaffirming support to the initiative of respectful dialogue on the basis of the principles of International Law, in particular, the rejection of the use and the threat of the use of force, sovereign equality and non-interference in the internal affairs of States.

16. Deputy Minister Botes reiterated South Africa’s unequivocal support at the United Nations General Assembly, of the annual resolution by Cuba on the necessity of lifting the US-imposed economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba, in particular the activation of the Tittle III of de Helms Burton Act., which, in addition to being contrary to the UN Charter and International Law, is causing huge material losses and economic damage to the people of Cuba.

17. The constructive engagement at the 15th JCM and the positive outcome of the meeting contributed to further strengthen the historically strong bonds of friendship, solidarity and cooperation between the two countries and demonstrates the importance and depth of the strategic partnership between South Africa and Cuba. First Deputy Minister Medina González invited Deputy Minister Botes to visit Cuba for the 16th JCM meeting in Havana in 2020, the dates of which will be communicated through diplomatic channels.

18. The Cuban delegation expressed its deep appreciation for the exquisite hospitality and generosity received from Deputy Minister Botes and other authorities of the Republic of South Africa during the visit.

The Joint Communiqué of the 15th Joint Consultative Mechanism between South Africa and Cuba was signed in Pretoria on 5 September 2019.

Mr Alvin Botes
Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa
  Mr Marcelino Medina González
First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs  of the Republic of Cuba

                                                                                          5 September 2019

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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