SA needs 'principled' leaders like Castro - Ramaphosa

2016-11-30 22:17
Cyril Ramaphosa at a Fidel Castro memorial event. (Paul Herman, News24)

Cyril Ramaphosa at a Fidel Castro memorial event. (Paul Herman, News24)

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Cape Town - South Africans should aim to have "principled and fearless" leaders like Fidel Castro governing their country, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday.

He said he was sad to pay tribute to one of the "greatest revolutionaries of our time", who was an inspiration to many in the world.

He was addressing around 1 000 people at a memorial for the Cuban leader in Khayelitsha. He arrived to the event over two hours late.

"We draw comfort from the conviction that Fidel Castro's spirit lives on amongst us," he said.

He described Castro as a friend and hero of people in Africa. Castro's death was a moment for South Africans to pause and say, "those are the types of leaders we want in the country".

"Leaders who would not be afraid to confront difficult issues. Leaders who would not be afraid to charge ahead to ensure the people are taken care of."

He compared Castro to former president Nelson Mandela. Both men were "fearless, courageous, principled and disciplined", and showed "humility, solidarity and ethical values".

"He never put himself ahead of the needs and aspirations of the people of Cuba.

"Today, that is the type of leaders we need. People who are going to put the aspirations of the country first."

Cuba's aid to South Africa

Ramaphosa said Castro had a clear vision for Cuba and was a "paramount strategist".

He thanked Castro for this dedication, because South Africa had benefited from it.

"Today we can say, history has truly absolved Fidel Castro," he said to applause from the crowd.

"We too must champion the cause of those who are colonised, as the Cubans championed our cause."

He praised Castro for standing with revolutionary movements in Angola, Namibia, and South Africa during their struggles for independence.

Castro always thought about others, never about himself, and he left Cuba a better place than when the revolution started.

Castro's ashes travel through Cuba

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 him.

Members of Cosatu, Sascoc, the SACP, and Cosas were also in attendance.

Fidel 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 traces 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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