Parliament– The high-level delegation of the South African Parliament, which includes Chief Whips of political parties represented in Parliament and is led by Speaker of the National Assembly Ms Baleka Mbete, kicked off their week-long programme in Cuba with a bilateral engagement with that country’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr Rogelio Sierra Díaz, and a meeting with representatives of the Federation of Cuban Women in Havana.
The visit follows an invitation by Ms Mbete’s Cuban counterpart and is in keeping with the fifth Parliament’s strategic objective to strengthen relations with Parliaments across the world and to enrich scrutiny and oversight of Executive action.
The official Parliament visit is taking place when Cuba is in the process of changing its Constitution to ensure socio-economic and political reforms. At the bilateral meeting with Mr Rogelio Sierra Díaz, the delegation received a detailed briefing on the process, which includes public consultations on recognition of same sex marriages, enhancement of property rights and change of the age for eligibility to stand for president.
The bilateral meeting was taking place also against the backdrop of South Africa’s membership of the United Nations Security Council. In this regard, the meeting reflected on the continued solidarity between the two nations, including the reaffirmation of South Africa’s unwavering support for the lifting of the United States’ economic embargo on Cuba – which continues to cause devastating socio-economic hardship on Cuba’s 11 million people. South Africa’s increased co-operation in trade and investment, including improvement of banking relations, was also discussed.
In her remarks at the bilateral meeting, Ms Mbete reflected on the longstanding relationship with Cuba and solidarity of the Cuban people with the oppressed people of South Africa. She saluted Cuba for its courage and steadfastness in support of the liberation of Africa. This included deploying heroic combat troops, military advisors and equipment to defend Angola from invasion by the former racist South African Defence Force.
Speaker thanked the Cuban government for erecting the bust of Mr Oliver Reginald Tambo at the African Founding Fathers Park. Earlier, the delegation visited the Park, where great African revolutionaries, such as, Mr Tambo, Mr Eduardo Chivambo Mondlane, Mr Samora Moisés Machel, are honoured. Plans are underway to erect a bust of Mr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
The Parliamentary delegation includes Ms Mmatlala Borotho, (House Chairperson for International Relations), Mr Jackson Mthembu (Chief Whip, African National Congress), Ms Dorries Dlakude (Deputy Chief Whip, African National Congress), Mr John Steenhuisen (Chief Whip, Democratic Alliance), Mr Nyiko Shivambu (Chief Whip, Economic Freedom Fighters), Mr Narend Singh (Chief Whip, Inkatha Freedom Party), Ms Tasneem Motara (Provincial Whip: Gauteng), and Ms Regina Lesoma (Whip, Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Co-operation).
Today, the delegation will have meetings at the Ministry of Public health, the Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Centre and will visit the Africa House Museum.
Source: Parliament of the Republic of South Africa