South Africa, Cuba cement relations
Pretoria - Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies says South Africans should never forget the sacrifices made by Cuba in helping the country in its transition to democracy.
Speaking during the opening of the South African Pavilion at the 30th Havana International Fair in Cuba, Davies said the role that Cuba played in the fight against apartheid should be valued for its impact on the present, instead of being looked at as an event only etched in history.
"If it had not been for the contributions and sacrifices that Cuba made to the battle of Cuito Cuanavale and the impact it had on Namibian Independence and [the effect] Namibian Independence had on the transition to democracy in South Africa, I think we might well find ourselves battling with the demon of apartheid for several more years, and possibly a decade longer than we did. So we can never forget that," he said.
Davies acknowledged that Cuba continued to provide training for South African doctors and vaccines that were used in the public health sector, which contributed to eradicating serious diseases.
"The choice that Cuba made to develop a world class health sector is a direct outcome of the transition to socialism which Cuba underwent in the past.... I think we have a lot to be grateful to Cuba for," said Davies.
However, Davies also noted that trade and investment relations between the two countries could be more vibrant, noting that the current levels of trade were extremely modest and below what they had been in the past.
"We have tried a number of things on various occasions but some of these things have not delivered the results; but I'm happy to say this year, the 30th Havana International Fair anniversary is coinciding with the ratification of the agreement which was reached during the visit by President Zuma."
South Africa is providing Cuba with a R350 million Economic Assistance Package. Davies believed this would turn around that country's trade and investment pattern.
The Economic Assistance Package is divided into three facilities:
- Facility A consists of R40 million grant for the purchase of seeds by Cuba.
- Facility B of the agreement of US$14 million (R100 million) solidarity grant which may not be paid to South Africa.
- Facility C consists of R210 million for credit lines in two tranches of R70 million and R140 million.
Eighteen South African companies are exhibiting at the Havana International Fair. The sectors represented include capital equipment, electro-technical, mining, agro-processing, engineering and allied services, and metals. - SAnews.gov.za