President pays tribute to Castro
the people of Africa and South America that he sacrificed so much for.
“I, as President of Zimbabwe, have come to join the people of Cuba and mourn with them the loss of our dear brother, and our dear leader Fidel Castro. To express our deep condolences to them, and assure them that their feeling of deep loss is shared by us in Zimbabwe, and I happen to know by also a great many communities and leaders in Africa,” President Mugabe said.
“Fidel was not just your leader. He was our leader and the leader of all revolutionaries. We followed him, listened to him and tried to emulate him.
“I used to come several times here and met with him and shared with him our situation in Africa, our struggle in Africa, and there was in him the spirit of a man who identified himself with our struggles,” he said.
Commandate Castro came to power in 1959 after overthrowing the regime of US acolyte Fulgencio Batista after a popular revolution. He presided over Cuba for 47 years, first as prime minister up to 1976, then as president from 1976 to 2006 when he handed the reins to his brother, Raul, the incumbent president.
Cde Castro set up a socialist state right on the US doorstep and launched a people-centred development agenda that drew the wrath of the US establishment which responded by imposing an illegal economic blockade on Cuba on February 3, 1962, including masterminding 638 attempts on Cde Castro’s life, all of which failed as he outlived 11 US presidents till he went out on his own terms on Saturday surrounded by family and friends.
Due to his life of selfless service not only to Cuba but the entire developing world, Cde Castro’s circle of friends and family extended beyond the borders of his tiny Caribbean nation to encompass all who believe in their inalienable right to freedom and self-determination, Zimbabwe included.
Zimbabwe-Cuba relations date from the days of the liberation struggle when Cuba extended material, logistical and moral support to the struggle. They firmed with the establishment of formal diplomatic relations at independence in 1980 and have been manifest in manpower development that culminated in the establishment of the Bindura University of Science Education in 1996.
The university was born out of the localisation of the highly successful science and mathematics teacher training programme that had for 10 years seen thousands of Zimbabweans graduate with science and mathematics education teaching degrees in Cuba.
President Mugabe said of Cde Castro: “He was not just a man of words, he was a man of action. And in my country after he visited us during the Non Aligned Movement Summit of 1986 and discussed with me how Cuba could assist, he agreed to establish on the Isle of Youth, a university to train our young men and women in science and mathematics. Overtime he trained over 3 000 young teachers of science and mathematics who have done a lot of good work in Zimbabwe.
“And besides that, he decided to start a programme on a completely unexpected basis taking into account that Cuba was suffering from sanctions imposed on it by the United States and its allies, a programme of training doctors for countries, Latin American countries, South African, if not African communities, to train doctors for us.