Respect Cuba's sovereignty - Ramaphosa

2016-12-01 06:05
Roses and medals serve as a base for a portrait of the late Fidel Castro at Revolution Plaza, the site of two days of tributes to the late leader, in Havana, Cuba. (Ramon Espinosa, AP)

Roses and medals serve as a base for a portrait of the late Fidel Castro at Revolution Plaza, the site of two days of tributes to the late leader, in Havana, Cuba. (Ramon Espinosa, AP)

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Cape Town - The world, including the United States, must respect Cuba's right to self-determination, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday.

"We must insist that the United States completely lift the embargo on Cuba, and remove all punitive measures," he said at a memorial for late Cuban leader Fidel Castro in Khayelitsha, for which he was over two hours late.

"Cuba's sovereignty and the right to self determination must be respected."

Castro's spirit would live on and inspire more revolutionaries, he said. Castro died on Friday, aged 90.

Ramaphosa said it was an honour that President Jacob Zuma was one of the few leaders in the world who had been invited to speak at Castro's memorial in Havana.

Cuba's medical aid to SA

He rebuked those who "ridiculed" the South African government for bringing Cuban doctors to the country to aid in healthcare training, including the DA.

Cuba had one of the best medical education sectors in the world, he said, and was the only country able to export such a large number of doctors.

South Africa was training 3 000 students in Cuba to become doctors.

However, the DA-run Western Cape government was not interested in the medical aid from Cuba, he said.

Revolutionaries dedicated themselves to the welfare of their country, as Castro did for the Cuban people.

Ramaphosa urged South Africa to build a new nation based on true solidarity, selflessness, and friendship.

Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, ANC Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu and ANC NEC member Toni Yengeni were on the stage with Ramaphosa.

'Cuban women do not fear their men'

Dlamini, who is also ANC Women's League president, said Cuba's treatment of its women was an example to South Africa.

"Women walk the streets of Cuba at midnight without the fear of being harassed or being raped. They trust the men in Cuba," she said.

This was because Castro had contributed to the formation of women's organisations to defend the revolution. Cuban women had helped train the ANC's women Umkhonto we Sizwe soldiers.

Over 60% of women had qualifications and were in a profession in Cuba, she claimed.

Castro's ashes began a four-day journey across Cuba on Wednesday, from Havana to their final resting place in the eastern city of Santiago.

The route traced in reverse the victory tour Castro and his bearded rebels took after overthrowing the forces of strongman Fulgencio Batista in 1959.

President Jacob Zuma praised Cuba under Castro for its record on education and health care and its support for African independence struggles.

Castro would be remembered as "a great fighter for the idea that the poor have a right to live with dignity", Zuma told the crowd on one of the legs of the journey in Cuba.

Read more on:    fidel castro  |  cyril ramaphosa  |  cuba

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