Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
The Zimbabwe-Cuba Parliamentary Forum was launched yesterday with Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda saying it will further strengthen bilateral ties between the two countries. He said Zimbabwe and Cuba shared a long history of cooperation dating back to the liberation struggle. “The common bond between Zimbabwe and Cuba is that of an umbilical cord enjoining Siamese twins,” said Adv Mudenda.
“The historical antecedent of our liberation struggle has its genesis in our unbroken human spirit of self-determination and the insatiable hunger for a truly liberated soul and practical self ego-being continually hankering after political, social and economic self actualisation.”
Adv Mudenda said the forum, chaired by Deputy President of the Senate Cde Chen Chimutengwende, should provide a platform for Zimbabwe and Cuba to fight the United States’ imperialism.
“The signing of the Joint Permanent Agreement of Cooperation in Economic, Scientific and Cultural Cooperation in September 1986, culminated in the commencement of the Cuba-Zimbabwe Teacher Training Programme which produced 2 300 graduate teachers in Science, Mathematics, Biology, Physics, Chemistry and Geography,” he said.
Adv Mudenda said Cuba had also provided Zimbabwe with over 800 medical professionals and commended the medical professionals for playing a critical role during the cholera epidemic in 2008.
He said cooperation between Zimbabwe and Cuba now transcended the health and education fields as seen by the signing in September 2016 of an agreement in sports and recreation, while in October of the same year the then Acting President Honourable Phelekezela Mphoko agreed with the visiting Cuban Vice President Honourable Salvador Valdes Mesa to enhance cooperation in tourism.
“It goes without saying, therefore, that the Zimbabwe-Cuba Parliamentary Forum must be seen to be practically contributing towards strengthening all these bilateral cooperation more significantly,” said Adv Mudenda.
“Let the forum play a pivotal role by using parliamentary diplomacy to totally end the United States sanctions embargo against Cuba and the illegal sanctions against Zimbabwe. At international law, it is not a crime to assert one’s sovereignty and nationhood.”
Cuba’s ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Elio Savon Oliva hailed relations between the two countries.
“The relations between Cuba and Zimbabwe have a long history that goes back to the colonial period in Zimbabwe and the first phase of the Cuban revolution,” Ambassador Oliva said.
“Once independence was obtained, the relations between the two governments and people continued solidly and despite our limited resources, Cuba willingly assisted Zimbabwe in the areas of health and education.”
He hailed relations that existed between President Mugabe and the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Ambassador Oliva slammed the embargo imposed on his country by the US, saying it did not only affect the Cuban people, but the US citizens as well, including international trade.