TANZANIA DAILY NEWS: Cuba and Tanzania – Prime Movers of South-South Cooperation

Oct 10, 2016 by

Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: Cuba and Tanzania – Prime Movers of South-South Cooperation
By Makwaia Wa Kuhenga

It has been a momentous week for us here in Tanzania. We have just played host to two dignified visitors, the Vice President of Cuba, Comrade Salvador Valdes Mesa and the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ndugu Joseph Kabila.

While the visit of the Congolese leader was regarded by many of us as ‘home-coming’ since Congo borders Tanzania, but the visit of the Vice President of Cuba was a very special one given the revolutionary history of the Caribbean island, only 90 miles off the shores of the United States.

It is a country that is just emerging from almost half a century of economic blockade by its powerful neighbor, described invariably as a ‘unipolar’ power.

Thanks to the initiative of the first Afro-American President of the United States, Mr. Barack Obama to ease economic sanctions against Cuba, now Cuba is more robust than ever before to exercise its economic and manpower prowess.

For us in the developing world, we have experienced Cuba as an ally who has been with us; come rain come sunshine – in our struggles for independence – against colonialism, racialism and minority rule.

We have experienced Cuba as a country that had joined us to combat ignorance and disease, sending its doctors to all corners of the African continent on what it chose to proclaim as its ‘internationalist’ obligations.

Above all, for instance, present day free Angola would not have enjoyed its current national peace and stability had it not been for Cuba’s decisive support in the last leg of the postcolonial war of liberation, which had been punctuated with counter-revolutionary strife.

And I am writing all this with the support of my immediate memory and not from reading a book because I have been around in the African postcolonial times up to this day!

Actually, I can write with certitude that revolutionary Cuba was there during the struggle against minority rule in Southern Africa in former Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe and in South Africa, supporting the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa.

Here at this point, one remembers the western media describing African liberation movements of those days as “terrorist” organizations, even the late Nelson Mandela, globally renowned as the beacon of liberation of his country and an inspiration elsewhere in the Third World was once described as a “terrorist”! Beyond Africa, one sees Latin America as a continent that has been inspired by Cuba.

Invariably, one sees Cuba as a model for all nationalist movements – movements seeking genuine independence, free from external tutelage.

Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela is a case in point. Up to this day, that country is inspired by Cuba’s model for genuine independence, even in the angry face of the United States, which disapproved the late Hugo Chavez nationalist stance for his country. So one of the leaders of this revolutionary country, Cuba, Vice President Salvador Mesa was visiting us here; a momentous occasion indeed for cooperation between developing countries – better described as ‘South-South’ relations.

As pointed out, in spite of decades of economic embargo by its neighboring unipolar power, Cuba has been able to advance scientifically and industrially. Even in its years of economic embargo, Cuba has been able to train its people in scientific areas such as medicines and putting up industries. These are areas, which Tanzania is poised to embark.

It was therefore very relieving to learn of the areas Cuba and Tanzania are poised to cooperate in the road ahead. Relieving because both countries belong to developing countries, best described in the geopolitical equilibrium as countries of the ‘South’.

It is, at this level, that I remember the front-page banner headline of this newspaper’s Tuesday edition this week: ‘COME! DAR TELLS CUBAN INVESTORS.’ Ran the front-page story: “President John Magufuli has invited Cuban investors to develop pharmaceutical industries in the country as the two friendly nations agreed to cooperate in five areas.

“Dr. Magufuli asked the visiting Cuban Vice President, Mr. Salvador Valdes Mesa to help in persuading Cuban investors to Tanzania, saying the establishment of pharmaceutical industries in the country will guarantee drug availability at affordable prices.

Went on the story quoting the Tanzanian President: “I understand that Cuba is advanced in both sugar and medicine production, I therefore ask you to convince investors from your country to consider investing in Tanzania,” to which request the Cuban Vice President responded: “Comrade President; I understand we have a historical relationship. “Cuba has so far managed to build up its economy and advanced technology.

I am here to ensure our good relations prevail for benefit of Tanzanian and Cuban people.” What is instructive here is the fact that developing countries do not have to depend on the more developed countries of this world, they can do best by counting on each other in areas which they excel as Tanzania and Cuba are poised.

It was the founder President of this country, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere who was in the forefront to advocate intensified relations between the developing world, which resulted in the formation of the South Commission. Tanzania and Cuba seem to be showing the way in livening up this spirit of South-South Economic Cooperation.

It is an ideal the founder President of modern day Cuban, Fidel Castro must be proud to see evolving and it is an ideal for which Mwalimu Nyerere lived for and would marvel at were he to come back to life.

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