South Africa spends R308 million paying Cuban doctors and engineers

Issued by Dr Mimmy Gondwe MP – DA Shadow Deputy Minister for Public Service and Administration
17 Jun 2022 in News

Please find attached soundbite by Dr Mimmy Gondwe MP.

A recent reply to a DA parliamentary question has revealed that the South African taxpayer has spent a cumulative total of R308 million, and still counting, paying the salaries of 229 doctors and 65 engineers from Cuba.

The DA will submit a PAIA application to the Department of Labour requesting that they provide us with copies of the Skills Transfer Plans for these Cuban doctors and engineers, as required by the Employment Services Act 4 of 2014.

According to the Act, Skills Transfer Plans must be produced by the employer outlining how foreign nationals will transfer their skills to local South African employees or permanent residents during the course of their employment or assignment in South Africa.

While South Africa has a shortage of doctors, because of budget constraints, the country is currently struggling to place and absorb locally trained medical graduates in need of the pre-requisite community service. Similarly, recently qualified engineering graduates often find it difficult to find employment because employers generally want experienced engineers.

The Department of Labour will need to prove that it has been actively fulfilling its mandate in ensuring compliance with skills transfer requirements, with regards to these Cuban doctors and engineers.

With over a quarter of a billion rand having been spent thus far paying the salaries of these Cuban doctors and engineers, it raises the important question of whether they have been given permanent contracts in lieu of the Skills Transfer Plans required by law.

In addition to the PAIA application, the DA will be submitting additional follow up questions to the Department of Public Service and Administration asking for details on the following:

  • The specific workstations where the Cuban doctors and engineers are employed?
  • The length of time by which they have been employed and working in the country?
  • The nature of employment contracts that they currently have?

It is curious that at a time when government continues to implement measures aimed at tightening our immigration laws and regulations, Cubans continue to find employment in the public service system with the aid of the ANC government. Growing the local skills base requires us to urgently prioritise our existing talent and expertise pool.