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South Africa : Parliament embarks on official visit to Republic of Cuba

Republic of South Africa: The Parliament Download logo

National Assembly Speaker Ms Baleka Mbete is leading a multi-party delegation of eight Members of Parliament (MPs) on an official parliamentary visit to the Republic of Cuba.

The eight MPs are Ms Mmatlala Boroto (National Assembly House Chairperson: International Relations), Mr Jackson Mthembu (Chief Whip, African National Congress), Ms Dorries Dlakude (Deputy Chief Whip, African National Congress), Mr John Steenhuisen (Chief Whip, Democratic Alliance), Mr Nyiko Shivambu (Chief Whip, Economic Freedom Fighters), Mr Narend Singh (Chief Whip, Inkatha Freedom Party), Ms Tasneem Motara (Provincial Whip: Gauteng), and Ms Regina Lesoma (Whip, Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Co-operation).

The official Parliament-to-Parliament visit follows an invitation from Ms Mbete’s Cuban counterpart, President of the National Assembly of People’s Power Mr Esteban Lazo Hernández. The visit is in keeping with the fifth Parliament’s strategic objective to strengthen relations with Parliaments across the world, to enrich scrutiny and oversight of Executive action.

A bilateral meeting with Mr Esteban Lazo Hernández is among the engagememts scheduled for the week, together with a meeting with the Federation of Cuban Women, meetings at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Public Health, the Genetic Engineering Biotechnology Centre and the Latin American School of Medicine. Visits to places of interest include the African Founding Fathers Park, Africa House Museum, Old Havana and an official wreath-laying ceremony in honour of José Martí at the José Martí Memorial.

Cuba played a key role in our struggle to end apartheid – for example during the battle of Cuito Cuanavale (1987/1988). In July 1991, after his release from prison, former President Nelson Mandela visited Cuba and met Fidel Castro for the first time. In his address at a ceremony to mark the 38th anniversary of the start of the Cuban revolution, Madiba said: “The defeat of the racist army at Cuito Cuanavale has made it possible for me to be here today! Cuito Cuanavale was a milestone in the history of the struggle for southern African liberation! Cuito Cuanavale has been a turning point in the struggle to free the continent and our country from the scourge of apartheid!”

The bonds of solidarity forged in struggle have continued to strengthen since democracy. Most notably, co-operation between Cuba and South Africa has contributed to improving our health care system. As we celebrate the centenary birthday of Mr Mandela this year, so too is Cuba doing so with a series of events planned to end in December.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.

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