Castro was one of the greatest revolutionaries ever produced - Nzimande

2016-12-02 16:05
Blade Nzimande (File, City Press)

Blade Nzimande (File, City Press)

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Johannesburg - Fidel Castro's death must start the process of celebrating his role in the struggle to serve humanity, says SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande.

"One of the greatest revolutionaries human society has ever produced," is how Nzimande describes Castro in a tribute he penned in honour of the fallen hero on Thursday.

The 90-year-old revolutionary, who led the Cuban revolution, died last week Friday. He stepped down as president in 2008 after a long illness.

Nzimande, who has visited the island state numerous times, recalled some of his experiences during those visits.

"I vividly recall the electricity cuts and food rationing, amongst others, but through the leadership of comrade Fidel and the Communist Party of Cuba the country managed to get out of that situation whilst continuing to send its doctors to many parts of the world," he wrote.

He said the Cuban leader understood that a true revolutionary could not be liked by exploiters of the working class and also understood the importance of safeguarding national sovereignty against imperialist ambitions.

'Cuba still supporting Africa'

Nzimande, like many other South African leaders, lauded the revolutionary leader's spirit of internationalism.

"Hundreds of thousands of Cuban volunteers worked under his brilliant leadership and fought in 17 countries in our African continental independence struggles," he said.

Cuban support in Africa continues to this day, pointed out Nzimande.

He highlighted the role of Cuba's healthcare workers during the recent Ebola outbreak, claiming none of the developed countries could match the island state's efforts in the fight against the disease.

"Everywhere Cuba offered support – it never took away anything, not even a discrete particle of soil, not even a cent, except the remains of their casualties where any occurred," wrote Nzimande.

Clearly upset over relations between the United States and the Cuban leader, Nzimande said the US continued to speak ill of the leader, calling him a dictator, something the general secretary said made no sense as he had shown over the years that he "overwhelmingly so much loved and defended his country".

"I want to reiterate our party's just call to the US to lift its illegal economic blockade of Cuba unconditionally," he said on behalf of the SACP.

Malema questions Nzimande's commitment

Nzimande also addressed US president elect in his tribute, telling Donald Trump there was still time to turn away from reckless, harsh and racist utterances as well as an uncaring attitude towards circumstances faced by Cubans, Mexicans, women, Muslims and Africans.

While Nzimande lauded Castro's contributions to Cuba and Africa, EFF leader Julius Malema has questioned the SACP general secretary's right to do so.

Speaking to supporters at his own political party's memorial service in honour of Castro, Malema said Nzimande had no right to celebrate the life of the former Cuban president.

"Who is Blade Nzimande to say rest in peace Fidel? When he refused to give children free education, while the children in Cuba have free education," Malema said.

The EFF commander-in-chief was referring to Nzimande in his role as minister of higher education.

Nzimande has faced intense criticism from students and analysts over failing to move faster in addressing calls for free, quality higher education in South Africa.

"If Fidel was his role model he would have ushered in free education by now," said Malema.

Castro's funeral will take place on Sunday.

Read more on:    sacp  |  fidel castro  |  blade nzimande

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