Thursday, December 08, 2016

ANC National Executive Committee Special Resolution on the Passing Away of Former President of Cuba Fidel Castro
29 November 2016

The National Executive Committee of the ANC has learnt with sadness about the passing away of one of the great revolutionaries of our times Cde Fidel Castro. The NEC, on behalf of the members of the ANC wishes to express its most profound condolences to the family of Fidel Castro, the Communist Party of Cuba and the people of Cuba as a whole.

The ANC lowers its revolutionary banner in mourning the passing away of cde Fidel. However, the ANC is of the view that much as we should mourn the passing away of Fidel, we should also be celebrating his life, his role and contribution in building a better life for all of humanity. Cde Fidel will go down in history as one of the greatest heroes of the 20th century, together with the likes of our late former President, cde Nelson Mandela.

Cde Fidel was a great friend and ally of the ANC, the alliance, the broader national liberation movement and the people of South Africa as a whole. He was with us throughout the period of heightened repression by the apartheid regime and throughout the 30 year period of exile, underground armed struggle and international isolation of the apartheid regime, right from the victory of the Cuban revolution in 1959.

In the exile days, Cuba opened the doors of its schools and universities for the education of many South Africans and their children who were in the liberation movement. Even today, Cuba continues to support our struggle for the reconstruction and development of our country. There are many Cuban doctors that are serving in our hospitals and clinics, often in the most remote areas of our country. In addition, there are 3000 South African student doctors who are currently studying in Cuba and this is twice the number of doctors that we graduate in South Africa every year.

Cuba, under the leadership of cde Fidel, was also fully committed to the struggle of African people for their liberation and national self determination. It was for this reason that Cuba, threw its full weight in support of the Angolan liberation struggle in the wake of an aggressive incursion by the apartheid South African Defence Force in the 1980s. It was the defeat of the South African Defence Force by the Cubans that consolidated the victory of MPLA in Angola, and laid the basis for Namibian independence in 1990. These developments paved the way for the defeat of the apartheid regime in South Africa in 1994.

Cde Mandela, during his visit to Cuba in 1991 where he was speaking in Havana at the traditional July 26th Celebrations described these developments thus: "The Cuban people hold a special place in the hearts of the peoples of Africa. The Cuban internationalists have made a contribution to African independence, freedom and justice, unparalleled for its principles and selfless character."

Cde Fidel was both an internationalist and anti-imperialist of note. He supported selflessly the struggles of the oppressed and exploited, especially on the African continent. One of his most famous comments during the battle of Cuito Cuanavale in Angola was that, unlike others who had waged wars on the African continent in order to exploit its mineral resources, the Cubans went to Angola to support a just liberation struggle and did not come back with gold and diamonds from Africa. In fact, he said that all what the Cubans brought back were the bodybags of their fallen combatants. In other words, cde Castro will be remembered for building a Cuban nation that believed in solidarity without expectation of any gains for themselves.

Cde Fidel was a great believer and fighter for the defence of national sovereignty of Cuba and other nations. He did not see a contradiction between the defence of one's sovereignty and international solidarity. Instead for him, it was only truly sovereign nations that could enter into genuine international solidarity relations and conversely, it was through revolutionary internationalist solidarity that the legitimate aspirations of national sovereignty by nations could be safeguarded.

Lastly, and most significantly, cde Fidel was a great fighter for the ideal that the poor had a right to live in dignity. That is why the Cuban revolution was and still remains an inspiration to South Africa and the world on how to achieve a better life for the poor.

Today Cuba has higher health standards than the United States, has sent thousands of its doctors to many parts of the poorest sections of the world, and has free education.

Cuba made all these achievements despite facing one of the fiercest and unjust economic blockades by the United States than on any other country in the world. That is why cde Mandela, addressing the same rally in 1991 in Havana said: "The Cuban revolution has been a source of inspiration for all freedom loving people. We admire the sacrifices of the Cuban people in maintaining their independence and sovereignty in the face of a vicious imperialist orchestrated campaign organised to destroy the impressive gains made in the Cuban revolution."

As the ANC, the alliance and the South African people, we shall forever be indebted to the contribution and role played by comrade Fidel Castro.

Hamba kahle qhawe lama qhawe!

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