Saturday, October 08, 2016

Zimbabwe, Cuba Explore Areas of Co-operation
October 8, 2016
Felix Share and Zvamaida Murwira
Zimbabwe Herald

Cuban Vice President Salvador Valdes Mesa is in the country to explore further areas of co-operation with Zimbabwe beyond the health and education sectors. Mr Mesa and his delegation, yesterday separately met Acting President Phelekezela Mphoko, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda where they denounced illegal sanctions imposed on the two countries by the West and called for the unconditional lifting of the embargo on Cuba.

In his meeting, Acting President Mphoko was accompanied by Ministers Simbarashe Mumbengegwi (Foreign Affairs), Dr Walter Mzembi (Tourism and Hospitality Industry) and Dr Lazarus Dokora (Primary and Secondary Education).

VP Mnangagwa later hosted a luncheon for the Cuban delegation at a local hotel. In an interview, Minister Mumbengegwi said Zimbabwe and Cuba wanted to expand their relations in many areas with tourism being at the centre of deliberations.

“Now we are working to move into other areas,” he said.

“As such, the Cuban Vice President is here and he has been well received by the Acting President Cde Mphoko and VP Mnangagwa. They have undertaken detailed discussions in various possible areas of co-operation and also briefed each other on the political situations prevailing in both countries.

“Cuba has done extremely well in the tourism industry and as you know, our Minister (Dr Mzembi) is very energetic and determined to build this sector. Cuba is going to become one of our most important allies in the rejuvenation of our tourism.”

Minister Mumbengegwi said Zimbabwe and Cuba had a “long standing relationship” politically, economically and diplomatically that should be maintained. “We have had regular exchange visits even at the level of Heads of State, Ministers and now it’s the Vice President of Cuba who is visiting,” he said.

“Naturally, we are discussing our relationships. Apart from the support that we received during the liberation struggle, after Independence, Cuba introduced a programme to train our students in science and mathematics.

“Over 3 000 of our young people were trained in Cuba between 1986 and 1996 and that is a very significant number. Educationally, Zimbabwe is at the top of the ladder in Africa in the teaching of science and mathematics because of Cuba.”

He said the programme was moved in 1996 from Cuba, resulting in a specialised higher learning institution, the Bindura University of Science Education, where Havana seconded its lecturers to ensure the continued success of the programme.

Minister Mumbengegwi said the success in education was replicated in the area of health where medical experts were seconded to Zimbabwe and most of them worked in rural areas where most Zimbabwe health personnel shunned.

“As you know, there have been developments in Cuba relating to their relationship with the United States and the Vice Presidents have been able to exchange notes in those areas,” he said.

“They totally agreed that sanctions on Cuba and Zimbabwe should be lifted unconditionally because they have no basis for having been imposed in the first place, let alone their continuation.”

In their meeting with Adv Mudenda at Parliament building, Mr Mesa hailed Zimbabwe for being bold in the wake of the effects of illegal sanctions imposed by the West.

“As you know that Cuba is one of the countries that have registered success in the area of health, particularly the prevention of HIV/AIDS from mother-to-child transmission, we might want to share our experience with Zimbabwe,” said Mr Mesa.

Adv Mudenda said the Cuban Parliament and the Parliament of Zimbabwe should explore ways of co-operation to deepen the two countries’ bilateral relations.

“People like us who serve in this institution are humbled by the responsibility thrust upon us. Through this responsibility, we can share best practices and that is why we have established Cuban-Zimbabwe Parliamentary Friendship, chaired by Senate Deputy President Cde Chen Chimutengwende,” said Adv Mudenda.

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