Rumbidzayi Zinyuke-Senior Reporter
Cuban Vice President Salvador Valdes Mesa is expected to arrive in Zimbabwe for a three-day official visit during which he is expected to meet with President Mnangagwa.
He is coming in place of President Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, who had been scheduled to visit after attending the G77+ China Summit in Kampala, Uganda.
Speaking after paying a courtesy call on Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Ambassador Frederick Shava yesterday, Cuban Charge D’Affaires, Ambassador Yenielys Vilma Regueiferos Linares, said VP Mesa would also visit Tanzania from Zimbabwe.
“We are preparing for the arrival of the Vice President of the Republic of Cuba who is arriving in Zimbabwe (today) after participating in the G77+ China and Non Aligned Movement summits in Uganda. Afterwards, he is paying a visit to Tanzania,” she said.
Ambassador Linares said the meeting with Ambassador Shava had also focused on how the two countries could update and strengthen bilateral relations.
They also discussed the links between Zimbabwe and Cuba as well as the diplomatic relations that span decades.
“It was very pleasant and I thanked the Minister for receiving us and for all the support that Zimbabwe has given us in all these years that we have suffered the economic blockade.
“And for us, it’s very important to thank Zimbabwe,” said Ambassador Linares.
She highlighted the collaboration between Zimbabwe and Cuba in the health and education sectors which she said was bearing fruit.
“We have 16 Cuban members of the medical brigade in Zimbabwe. They are working not only in Harare but also in other provinces of the country. We have four lecturers at Bindura University (of Science Education).
“But everything that can be done in order to strengthen the cooperation and having more medical personnel in Zimbabwe can be done, and it is possible, and it will be an environment that will help both countries.”
Ambassador Shava expressed gratitude that President Diaz-Canel had assigned VP Valdes to pay an official visit to Zimbabwe from today until January 27.
“I am most gratified that relations between our two sister countries are excellent. Zimbabwe holds your revolutionary and principled leadership in high esteem and cherishes the strong bonds of friendship that were sealed during the struggle for Zimbabwe’s liberation and have endured to this day.”
“I am pleased that since the 1980s, Cuba has made a big contribution towards the development of Zimbabwe’s education and health sectors and continues to have a big footprint on these sectors’ human resources and skills development in a way which no other country has done.
“Thousands of teachers were trained and continue to receive training in science from Cuban professors at Bindura University of Science Education,” he said.
Ambassador Shava also commended the deployment of Cuban medical brigades throughout Zimbabwe as they were helping to bridge the skills shortage in the health sector, as well as imparting their expert knowledge and admirable work ethics on Zimbabwe’s health workers.
He said despite challenges faced with regards to the programme, Zimbabwe was eager to get more support from Cuba.
“I am further pleased that commendable progress has been made towards the establishment of three joint venture pharmaceutical plants in Zimbabwe to manufacture vaccines and medical devices.
“I trust you fully agree with me on the need to broaden cooperation to other areas, including trade and investment for the mutual benefit of our two countries and peoples,” he added.
He congratulated Cuba on its re-election for the 6th time to the United Nations Human Rights Council in October 2023 and expressed confidence that Cuba would be impartial and subjective in the pursuance of a broader multilateralism in which poor countries’ voices were heard.
“May I also inform you that Zimbabwe is seeking a United Nations Security Council seat for the 2027-2028 cycle and request for Cuba’s assistance in canvassing for votes,” he said.