Zim, Cuba taking relations to a higher level

ZIMBABWE is committed to taking its relations with Cuba to the next level based on equality, mutual respect and a shared desire to build beneficial cooperation, Vice President Kembo Mohadi has said.

Speaking at a dinner he hosted for Cuban Vice President Salvador Valdes Mesa, who is in the country on an official three-day visit last night, VP Mohadi said his counterpart’s visit was an “eloquent testament” of the cordial relations that exist between Harare and Havana.

Zimbabwe and Cuba enjoy cordial relations that date back to Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle.

Going forward, VP Mohadi said the two countries should expand their relations both qualitatively and quantitatively.

“Your visit to this country is an eloquent testament to the close relations that exist between our two countries. These relations were forged and cemented in the 60s and 70s when we were comrades in arms during our liberation struggle. At that time, Cuba took up Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle and made it hers by training our competence and providing arms and other materials.

“These ties have been tried and tested over the last 43 years of our independence. I trust that the torch of the revolution led by the founding fathers of both our countries will burn into the future.

“Please be rest assured that we are determined to take this relationship to a new and higher level which is based on equality, mutual respect sovereignty and a shared desire to build mutually beneficial cooperation and to fight for a more just, fairer and more equitable global political and economic order,” he said.

VP Mohadi, who will hold a meeting with his Cuban counterpart today, said the deliberations would centre on how cooperation and exchanges can be enhanced between the two countries, as well as on regional and international issues.

“It is only through high-level feasts such as this one that we can nurture and explore ways of expanding, both qualitatively and quantitatively, all aspects of the relations between our two countries.

“In this vein, your visit provides us with an opportunity to exchange ideas on how to further strengthen these relations and to discuss regional and international issues which are increasingly becoming more complicated.

“It is my fervent hope that in our meeting tomorrow we will look into ways in which we can redouble efforts to expand the areas of our cooperation and find common ground on a wide range of regional and international issues,” he said.

Zimbabwe and Cuba have been cooperating in various fields particularly in the education and health sectors for decades.

This cooperation has seen over 3 000 teachers being trained by Cuba since the mid-1980s.

In the health sector, Cuban brigades have been helping to bridge the gap, as well as impart their expert knowledge.

VP Mohadi said all this assistance was appreciated by the Second Republic.

“I am heartened that cooperation between our two countries has been ongoing for decades, especially in the education and health sectors. Cuba has been contributing immensely towards the development of Zimbabwe, the education sector, through the training of human resources and skills development. There is no doubt that Cuba’s training programmes have had a significant positive impact on our education system as the results speak for themselves.”

“I am informed that since the mid-eighties, more than 3 000 Zimbabwean teachers have been trained in science subjects, initially in Cuba and after 1996 at Bindura University of Science Education, where Cuban Professors are seconded. No other country matches what Cuba has done for Zimbabwe in education and we are truly grateful, my dear brother and colleague.

“In the health sector, the footprint of Cuban cooperation programmes has been big. Cuban medical brigades have been helping to bridge the skills shortage in the health sector, as well as imparting their expert knowledge and admirable work ethics to Zimbabwe’s health workers.

“We very much want the programme to continue as their support is much needed and valued. The Cuban Medical Brigade members are excellent ambassadors of Cuba and Zimbabwe, and we are bridging our two countries. We are bringing our two countries together culturally,” he said.

VP Mohadi said the impartation of medical knowledge to Zimbabwe’s health sector would see the country morph into a pharmaceutical producer for the SADC region and beyond.

Zimbabwe would also become less reliant on other nations for medicines, he added.

“May I also extend my most sincere appreciation to His Excellency, Comrade Miguel Diaz Canel Bermudez for his gesture of friendship and solidarity. These flagship programmes in education are testimony that our close bond continues to express itself through concrete action.

“We have opened a new chapter of cooperation in the exchange of scientific knowledge between our two countries, beginning with exchanges of expertise in human and animal vaccines and medical devices, an area in which your country has made huge strides. I believe that the signature of the master agreements between Biotech Pharmaceuticals Zimbabwe and Labio Farm, Cuba, and Biocuba Farm, on September 22 will translate into Zimbabwe becoming a hub of pharmaceutical production in the region.

“I am encouraged that progress has already been made towards the establishment of the three joint venture pharmaceutical plants in Zimbabwe. With the size already identified, this is a most welcome development.

“I believe that with Cuba’s support, Zimbabwe can build up its capacity to manufacture and own drugs so that it depends less on other countries,” he said.

Turning to the issue of sanctions, VP Mohadi said it was incumbent on Zimbabwe and Cuba to remain resilient in the face of adversity.

Both countries have been reeling under unilateral Western-imposed sanctions for decades.

“It is no secret that our two countries have been under so-called unilaterally cohesive measures. In effect, sanctions have been imposed by the Western countries. Cuba has been under an embargo imposed by the United States for more than 60 years.

“Similarly, Zimbabwe has been under sanctions for more than 23 years. The aim of these measures is unambiguously to engineer regime changes in our respective countries, we must therefore remain ever vigilant and united against these malicious desires.

“We owe it to our revolutionaries. Like our founding fathers, as well as future generations to defeat these neo-imperialist forces. We are always proud to stand with the Cuban nation at the United Nations in condemning the illegal embargo on Cuba,” he said.

VP Mohadi said the renaming of one of the country’s roads to Fidel Castro road was a gesture of the two countries’ long-standing relationship.

“I believe that we do not need to see geography and language as hindrances to trade. There is ample scope to expand trade, and it is incumbent upon our officials to explore how this can be done.

“I am glad to announce that the Government of Zimbabwe in 2020 renamed one of its roads in Harare as Commandant Fidel Castro road. This is a small gesture that we feel will remind future generations of the bond of friendship between Zimbabwe and Cuba,” he said.

Harare’s Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Charles Tavengwa said Zimbabwe and Cuba shared a long history of mutual support, and this had been evidenced by VP Valdes Mesa’s visit.


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