Durban - The ANC has reiterated its call for the American government to unconditionally lift the economic, financial and commercial blockade imposed on Cuba more than 60 years ago.
The appeal comes as the ANC this week joined millions of Africans in the SADC region and people of Cuba Commemorating the 34th Anniversary of the battle of Cuito Cuanavale that took place on 23 March 1988.
The party said the 38th summit of the Southern African Development Community, held in Namibia by all the regional heads of states, declared the date as Southern Africa Liberation Day, marking the victory of the Angolan Army, Namibia’s Swapo forces and the Cuban Armed forces against South Africa’s apartheid army.
ANC International Relations Subcommittee chairperson Lindiwe Zulu said Africans, and South Africans, would forever be indebted to former Cuban president Fidel Castro and the Cuban people.
“We owe a huge debt for the decisive role he and his comrades played in liberating us from colonial oppression. The ANC therefore calls on the USA to unconditionally lift the economic, financial and commercial blockade imposed on Cuba for more than 60 years.
“The blockade is the main obstacle to development of the Cuban nation. We call upon all progressIve organisations, and the people of South Africa in particular and Africa in general to get behind Cuba in ending this criminal blockade,” Zulu said.
She said that despite Cuba being a small Island nation with a population of some 11 million citizens, it contributed immensely to the liberation of oppressed people in Angola, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa.
Zulu said thousands of Cuban soldiers died in defence of people’s right to self-determination in those countries. Nowhere else in the world was the Cuban solidarity as well expressed and more pronounced than during the battle of Cuito Cuanavale in Angola.
“The Battle of Cuito Cuanavale changed the course of history and is credited with ushering in the first round of trilateral negotiations, which secured the withdrawal of Cuban and South African troops from Angola and Namibia.
“The Cuban attack on apartheid South Africa took the white minority government by surprise. It turned the tide of the Angolan war in favour of Angola’s liberation movement,” Zulu said.
She said the military success against apartheid South Africa led to the negotiations in London on June 4, 1988, between Angola, Cuba, South Africa and the US.
“Reading the balance of forces, the apartheid government gave up and, in December 1988, accepted Cuban demands to abandon Angola and facilitate Namibian independence.
“What motivated Cuba was not only its commitment to the liberation of Africans from colonial occupation, but the need to fight imperialism and its dominance throughout the world. By sharing their doctors with us, giving us resources and training many of our soldiers, Cuba made our liberation movement stronger than the enemy forces.”
Zulu said that for Cuba to sacrifice so much with so few was the greatest gift for humankind, and for Cuba to share its limited financial and human resources to fight a war in defence of the colonised people on another continent was by no means a small feat.
“As we salute Cuban fallen heroes whose names are now inscribed in the monument of Freedom Park in Tshwane, we must remember that early in the pandemic in April 2020, Cuba sent over 200 doctors to South Africa, Including community health and infectious disease specialists,” Zulu concluded.
Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said March 23, 1988 was a turning point in the fight against the apartheid regime.
“Thanks to the Cuban intervention, we defeated the SADF army in the battle of Cuito Cuanavale. We shall never forget the Cuban friendship, solidarity, internationalism, love and humanity. Long live Cuba!” Dlamini Zuma said.