The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) warmly welcomes Cuba’s Medical Brigade on South African soil, as they arrive to assist with the fight against the Coronavirus that has ravished the globe in the past few weeks. COSATU greatly appreciates Cuba’s continued support to South Africa over the years. The two countries have enjoyed close ties since Cuba was instrumental in the fight against white-minority rule in South Africa. COSATU salutes Cuba’s act of altruistic solidarity of sending more than 200 doctors (constituting of community health and infectious disease specialists) that arrived at Pretoria’s Waterkloof Air Force Base just after midnight (on the 27th of April, 2020) from Cuba South Africa to help fight COVID-19.
As the 27th of April 2020 marks South Africa’s 26th celebration of Freedom Day, it is important to acknowledge those who stood with us during the apartheid era and continue to share good relations with the country. COSATU remembers the assistance rendered by Cuba under the leadership of Fidel Castro during South Africa’s liberation struggle in the 1980s and 1990s. Galant Cuban forces fought alongside Angola’s People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), against apartheid’s South African Defense Force at the battle of Cuito Cuanavale in southern Angola in 1988 which facilitated both PW Botha and FW de Klerk to the negotiating table with President Nelson Mandela, who later acknowledged the battle of Cuito Cuanavale as “the turning point for the liberation of our continent”.
In healthcare, Cuba has been a huge support to South Africa. The Cuban medical internationalism programme from 1996 to 2002, began with the deployment of more than 450 Cuban doctors and medical lecturers, and it extended to the enrolment of South African students for medical training under the Nelson Mandela-Fidel Castro collaboration. Under the auspices of the 2012 Agreement on Cooperation in the Fields of Public Health and Medical Sciences, more than 3,000 South African students have received medical training in Cuba.
COSATU continues to condemn United States’ (US) President Donald Trump’s insistence for countries not to accept assistance from Cuba, as the US government urges countries not to accept Cuban medical missions, accusing the country of exploiting its medics. We further reiterate that the unilateral economic sanctions against Cuba are unjust and should be lifted.
Issued by COSATU
Sonia Mabunda-Kaziboni (Cde)
Cosatu Head Office
Tel: 011 339 4911 | Cell: