Remarks by Deputy Minister Landers at the Wreath-Laying Ceremony on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of Bilateral Cooperation between South Africa and Cuba, Freedom Park, Monday, 23 May 2016

The Honourable Mr Marcelino Medina González, Cuban Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Your Worship, CLLR Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, Executive Mayor of the City of Tshwane,

Honourable Members of Parliament,

Leaders of the Alliance,

Ms Jane Mufamadi, CEO of Freedom Park,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Comrades and Friends.

It is a great pleasure for me to address you on this occasion to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Bilateral Relations between South Africa and Cuba.

Please allow me to welcome my colleague, comrade and leader of the Cuban delegation to Freedom Park – a place known as Isivivane.

Isivivane is a Nguni word which refers to a sacred space – the spiritual resting place for those who played a part in the freedom and liberation of South Africa, inclusive of all faiths and religions.

It is no accident that we find ourselves here today. As we celebrate our formal cooperation, it will not be complete without reflecting on our united humanity and common history of struggle against colonialism and apartheid

To this end I want to thank the management of Freedom Park for allowing us to host the event here tonight. This is the most appropriate venue for this commemoration and sharing of experience with our Cuban comrades.

Comrades and Friends

Although this commemoration is supposed to mark 20 years of formal relations between our countries, South Africa and Cuba’s special relationship stretches back several decades.  There are few countries outside our continent that have contributed more to the struggle of the African peoples for liberation from colonialism and apartheid than Cuba. Our bilateral cooperation is a continuation of a decades old relations transcending the normal diplomatic relations usually enjoyed by two countries.

Many of those we honoured earlier today who died in our struggle to liberate South Africa were supported, trained and some may even have fought alongside our Cuban comrades against colonialism and apartheid.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As we reflect on 2 decades of co-operation it is evident that Cuba’s support for our struggle did not end with the advent of our democracy.

Cuba continued to stand with us in our efforts to build a better life for all our people, by supporting us in the fields of skills development and technical co-operation.

We have signed a number of agreements in various sectors, cooperated in a number of fields and remain beneficiaries of Cuba’s on-going assistance in the provision of training and technical assistance in the areas of health, labour, defence, social development, built environment, infrastructure, science and technology, safety, sustainable development, agriculture and sanitation.

Our relations therefore serve as a successful and exemplary model of South-South cooperation and Afro-Cuba international human solidarity. 

Comrades and Friends

As we celebrate 20 years of successful technical cooperation we must also look ahead at the common challenges imposed on us by global developments and the common areas of political, cultural, social and economic opportunities.

As we forge ahead, we must strengthen the strong bonds of solidarity and peace and friendship between our two peoples. We must also broaden that relationship in the areas of trade, investment and economic cooperation.

Equally we must not become complacent in our international solidarity campaign to end the economic blockade by the United States and we will redouble our efforts to campaign for the rightful return of Guantanamo Bay to its rightful owners - The People of Cuba.

As I conclude, I want to take this opportunity to thank the Cuban delegation under the leadership of my brother and comrade for travelling to our shores to celebrate this important milestone in our relations.

I am hopeful that we shall reciprocate the visit to continue the celebrations in Cuba when we launch the unveiling of the Mandela Bust in December this year.

May I request you to join me in a toast to stronger bilateral ties, peace and friendship and international human solidarity between the people of South Africa and Cuba.

Salute

I thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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