Cuba and South Africa have reaffirmed here their strong ties of friendship and the excellent level of bilateral and multilateral cooperation, at the end of the official visit today by Council of State vice president, Salvador Valdes Mesa.

Valdes Mesa, who is also a member of the Political Bureau of the Cuban Communist Party, arrived in the African nation on Tuesday, Jan 31, in his first visit to South Africa, and held meetings at the highest level with leaders of the government, the African National Congress (ANC) and other political organizations that comprise the triple alliance.

Valdes Mesa and his peer and host, South African Vice President, Cyril Ramaphosa, held official talks yesterday. In a subsequent joint statement to the press, the Cuban vice president highlighted the appreciation for the warm welcome in this brother town and highlighted some aspects of the historical ties between both nations, as well as the course of cooperation, which is currently extended and expanded to several sectors.

South Africa and Cuba enjoy a very special relationship not only in the political, because of the contribution of the Caribbean country during the anti-apartheid phase, but also in the social sphere, especially in health, Ramaphosa stressed.

Prior to the meeting, the Cuban leader was received by President, Jacob Zuma, who wished him a fruitful stay.

Zuma testified Valdes Mesa’s participation in the recently concluded 28th African Union Summit, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to which Cuba attended as a guest country.

Valdes Mesa’s agenda -which ends today when traveling to Maputo, Mozambique- included a tour of the Beki Mlangeni Hospital, where he exchanged with workers and patients from that facility. This health institution was opened in April 2015 in the popular residential area of Soweto.

Upon his arrival to the hospital, accompanied by his delegation and ambassador to Pretoria, Carlos Fernandez de Cossio, the visitor was welcomed by Deputy Health Minister, Joe Phaahla, administrative staff, the Cuban Medical Mission leadership and some collaborators.

Phaahla expressed gratitude for the presence of physicians, whose work he described as ‘excellent’ and worthy of mention, because they go where they are most needed, ‘where health services are deficient,’ he said.

The Council of State vice president paid a tribute yesterday to late ANC leader, Oliver Tambo, in the context of his 100th death anniversary this year.