Saturday, October 03, 2009

Rupiah congratulates The Post for its work in Cuba

Rupiah congratulates The Post for its work in Cuba
Written by Larry Moonze in Havana, Cuba
Saturday, October 03, 2009 5:42:03 PM

PRESIDENT Rupiah Banda has said he was struck by Cubans’ patriotism and care for their country. In a one-question interview at Havana's Jose Marti International Airport on Thursday, President Banda who congratulated The Post for their work in Cuba said his visit to the Communist island allowed him to appreciate a lot of things.

“For myself and members of my delegation, we have learnt a lot of things that we can emulate back in Zambia especially in areas of health, education, agriculture and patriotism,” President Banda said.

“Patriotism, patriotism as I said earlier on, because I think this is one thing we really all have to learn particularly in Africa. The care for the country, the people, young and old.”

He said Africa and Zambia in particular had to pick up the lesson of caring for the nation.

“It is one major lesson we need to learn from here,” President Banda said.

He said Cubans were very passionate about their country.

President Banda said the Cuban people believed in themselves and were very patriotic to the national cause.

As they took the first step towards the departure gate, President Banda asked The Post reporter in Cuba whether he was remaining behind in Havana.

“Are you remaining here?” President Banda asked. This reporter responded: “Mr President, I operate from here. This happens to be the first bureau The Post opened.”

President Banda: “You are the one who talked to my wife yesterday? She thought you were Cuban.”

The reporter responded in the affirmative.

President Banda urged the reporter to fully learn Spanish.

“Congratulations and continue working hard here,” he said.

Meanwhile, President Banda said relations between Cuba and Zambia had always been good.

He said given his official visit to Havana he expected tangible results from now on.

President Banda, who also visited the African Heroes National Park, said Cubans were wonderful people and envisaged bilateral relations reaching higher heights.

“I think on future relations between our peoples, I foresee a greater future,” he said.

President Banda said very soon a Cuban delegation would be in Zambia to continue with exchanges and then after a Zambian delegation would visit Havana.

He said the Zambian government would also make use of students that studied in Cuba in all aspects involving the island because those already knew Spanish among other things.

“We wish the Cuban leadership full health,” President Banda said. “We wish Fidel Castro full recovery. He is a wonderful leader of the Cuban people who sacrificed his whole life for many people of this world. We shall stand side-by-side with the people of Cuba demanding the lifting of the embargo so that Cuba can develop.”

On his 72-hour-visit, President Banda bestowed Fidel with the Order of the Eagle of Zambia First Division. He toured places of social, economic and scientific interest like the pharmaceutical and biological laboratory, LABIOFAM.

President Banda urged LABIOFAM to help Zambia in fighting livestock diseases including eradication of malaria.

And first lady Thandiwe Banda said she was impressed with the Cuban health care system.

She said the paediatric hospital she visited was impressive.

“Cuba is a lovely country,” Thandiwe said. “I visited the old city [Havana Vieja - Old Havana in English], it is rich with history and I really hope we can also keep [preserve] old cities in Zambia.”

She said what she saw was a big lesson in cultural heritage.

Thandiwe also said she attended the first ladies conference in New York, US that focused on maternal health.

She said as matron of the White Ribbon Alliance she would use the insights from the conference to improve what the alliance was currently doing.

Thandiwe also demanded an end to stigma if HIV/AIDS was to be contained.

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