Remarks by TW Nxesi MP, Minister of Employment and Labour, representing the Government of the Republic of South Africa
14 November 2019


The celebration of 25 years of diplomatic relations between Cuba and South Africa



Havana, Cuba


• Your Excellency, [Representative Of the Cuban Government]

• Ambassador Shope-Linney

• Representatives of the Government of Cuba

• Ambassadors

• Comrades and friends


I bring you fraternal greetings from President Ramaphosa, the Government and the people of South Africa.


I would like to thank the Government and the people of Cuba for the excellent arrangements that have been made for us since our arrival in Cuba.


We would not be celebrating 25 years of democracy and 25 years of diplomatic relations with Cuba, were it not for the valiant efforts of the Cuban people on the battlefields of Angola. Cuito Cuanavale is the epitome of the selfless sacrifices of this small but great nation in solidarity with the oppressed of Southern Africa.  South Africans will never forget the support of Cuba. 


Your Excellencies, not only has Cuba contributed directly fighting side by side with us, you continue in this selfless sacrifice to improve the lives of our people by continuing to train our doctors in Cuba.


There are currently 1,227 South African medical students studying in Cuba at various levels, and of those 695 are expected to return to South Africa in July 2020. 


732 South Africans, 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 and are rendering services to communities across South Africa.


202 South African students are in Cuba under the auspices of the Agreement on Defence Cooperation.


Cuba is also providing support in sending doctors, engineers and other professional technicians to work in South Africa, mostly in areas of highest need.


Cuba has deployed twenty-three (23) Cuban Technical Advisors in the South African provinces of Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Free State. In addition, 20 Cuban teachers are deployed in South Africa under the auspices of the Collaboration Agreement on Professional Services in the field of Basic Education.


Our Department of Water and Sanitation is in the process of renewing the current agreement in the fields of Water Resource Management and Water Supply which will enable 25 engineers to be deployed across all of South Africa's 9 provinces.


Such generosity of spirit is unprecedented, and Cuba's assistance and support to our development is highly appreciated by all South Africans.


We are again in Cuba to recommit to our resolve to stand by Cuba in the period ahead which will prove both exciting and filled with challenges.  Many outstanding issues are yet to be resolved including the USA's total economic blockade and other illegal measures that have hampered the development of the Cuban people. Despite the illegal measures, Cuba has consistently been able to improve on its socio-economic conditions – a feat South Africa would like to emulate for our People.


South Africa and Cuba are committed in forging strong and mutually beneficial economic and commercial relations to match the depth of our diplomatic and political relations.


We are gathered here today to celebrate 25 years of diplomatic relations between South Africa and Cuba, 25 years of democratic government in South Africa, and the 500th anniversary of the city of Havana and to honour the glorious Cuban revolution.


Earlier today we unveiled a bust of the late Comrade Nelson Mandela in the iconic African Founding Father's Park - affirming the special bond of friendship between Nelson Mandela and Comrade Fidel Castro and between South Africans, Africans and the Cuban people.


South Africa and Cuba will always share a special bond of solidarity and true friendship grounded in our common history of struggle for liberation and against colonialism.


I thank you   ​​