Please find attached a soundbite by Natasha Mazzone MP.
The ANC government has spent more than R1.4 billion over the past decade on its agreements with the Cuban government to employ Cuban workers and service providers in South Africa.
The DA submitted Parliamentary questions to all government departments regarding past and present employment agreements with Cuba and have received responses from 5 departments to date. The cost of each department’s agreement with the Cuban government is as follows:
- Basic Education (2017 – 2022): R 63 060 052
- Public Works (2010 – 2021): R 137 967 200
- Health (2021): R 83 000 000
- Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation (2021 – 2024): R 64 623 000
- Defence (2014 – 2021): R 1 076 672 258
The combined cost of the 5 departments’ agreements with Cuba, therefore, amounts to a staggering R 1 425 322 510 and counting.
The DA has serious concerns around the astronomical amounts of money the government is forking out to pay for the skills and services from Cuba when there are unemployed and qualified workers across South Africa in all these fields desperate for employment.
It makes no sense that in a country with record unemployment rates, the government would continue to enter into these costly agreements at the expense of local job creation.
Why would the Defence Department spend billions on Cuban service providers to maintain and repair its defence equipment, when the local defence industry is caught in a death spiral and job losses?
Why would the Health Department bring over doctors and nurses from Cuba, when it failed for months to place community service doctors?
The DA is simply not buying the government’s excuse of skills shortages. As in the case of the 24 engineers being brought to South Africa to assist the Department of Water & Sanitation with water infrastructure, the government’s excuse was that “very few of our own engineers would possibly opt to go work in the rural areas”. This was of course disputed when 120 local engineers indicated their willingness to assist in the government’s efforts to address infrastructure challenges in rural communities.
Clearly, there’s more to these contracts between South Africa and Cuba than meets the eye. It would appear that the South African government is once again being captured, this time by its blind loyalty to its old Cuban allies.
The DA will continue to pursue this matter by submitting applications to government in terms of the Public Access to Information Act to ascertain the full details of these agreements and who is benefiting from them.
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