Looting for Cuba: Defence Minister must lay criminal charges against Operation Thusano officials, or the DA will

Issued by Kobus Marais MP – DA Shadow Minister of Defence
19 May 2022 in News

Please find attached English and Afrikaans soundbites by Kobus Marais.

The DA is calling on the Minister of Defence, Thandi Modise, and the Secretary for Defence, Gladys Kudjoe, to lay criminal charges against all officials implicated in the malfeasance regarding Operation Thusano by Friday, 27 May 2022. Should the Minister fail to act by then, we will lay the criminal charges ourselves.

Operation Thusano is an agreement with Cuba that has seen payments to the tune of total of R1.4 billion made to the Caribbean nation by the Department of Defence. The ANC government has also seen fit to donate R50 million in food to Cuba, while doing nothing to address South African food security for the country’s poorest of the poor. This would form part of larger donation of R350 million to Cuba, as recently revealed by court documents. Not to mention the more than R147 million loaned to Cuba since 2018.

A report by the Auditor-General of South Africa (AG), indicates that all of the expenditure under Operation Thusano since 2015 – when the project commenced – until December 2021 has been irregular, with no procurement procedures followed or deviations obtained prior to entering into supplementary agreements.

It was under the guise of Operation Thusano that the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) irregularly procured Interferon (Heberon Alpha-2B) from Cuba at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic at a cost of $20 million, of which $2 million was irregularly paid. Luckily the malfeasance came to light before a further $5.270 million were wasted on a drug that SANDF failed to clear, register with the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) as a Covid-prophylactic, or obtain import authorization for.

From the AG’s report alone it is clear the Operation Thusano should be cancelled with immediate effect. SANDF cannot afford the further R1.2 billion Cuba is expected to make from Thusano. It is becoming clearer every day that SANDF has been captured, and that money is seemingly being laundered to Cuba under the guise of contracts for technical services and educational purposes.

SANDF has become a broken entity unable to fulfil its core purpose – the protection of South African citizens. Earlier this year it was revealed that a majority of the equipment procured under the dodgy arms deal is not serviceable and that the country’s military capabilities have deteriorated to the point where we would be unable to launch a meaningful defense should the situation arise.

It now seems that it’s not that SANDF does not have the necessary funds to rectify the situation, but that its loyalty lies with its Cuban comrades and not with the South African public. The ANC government continues to abuse South Africa to ensure Cuba prospers. While our country is bleeding money, our children are literally starving, and unemployment and hopelessness reign supreme, the ANC government is looting the coffers for their Cuban masters.

The DA will not stand for this. We will not stop until all officials complicit in this vile act are in orange overalls.