SA, Cuba to look into economic, trade ties

Bilateral, political, economic and trade discussions will top the agenda when Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa meets his Cuban counterpart, Vice President Salvador Valdes Mesa, this evening.

Vice President Mesa is on a working visit to South Africa which will include paying a courtesy call on President Jacob Zuma and visit Cuban doctors currently working in one of Gauteng’s hospitals, as well as honour late struggle stalwart OR Tambo at a wreath laying ceremony.

Cuba has become an established strategic partner for South Africa in the Latin American region and in multilateral fora, the Presidency said on Tuesday.

The past 22 years of diplomatic relations have experienced a robust and constructive interaction at both bilateral and multilateral level. Both countries enjoy strong support from each other in multilateral fora. In this regard South Africa has consistently voted for the lifting of the US-imposed economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba.

Over the years, South Africa is a beneficiary of Cuba’s on-going assistance in support of the five priorities of the South African Government, through joint programmes in health, labour, defence, social development, housing and infrastructure.

These has resulted in the signing of over 30 bilateral agreements in vast areas of cooperation in education, defence, science and technology, agriculture, health services, infra-structure development, housing and water and sanitation, health cooperation, human settlements technical exchange, water resource management and water supply and public works technical assistance.

One of the success stories is the extensive cooperation between South Africa and Cuba regarding skills development and training.

Under the auspices of the 2012 Agreement, 2 903 South African students, including the 80 students on the scholarship programme, are currently receiving medical training in Cuba.

So far, 520 South Africans from disadvantaged backgrounds have graduated as medical doctors, providing much needed primary healthcare services to their local communities, the Presidency said.

In addition to this, 34 Cuban engineers are currently working in SA under the auspices of the SA/Cuba Agreement on Cooperation in the fields of Water Resource Management and Water Supply, which was signed in 2013.

Source: South African Government News Agency