Cuba taps still flowing while South Africans are left high and dry

Issued by Willem Faber MP – DA Member on the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation
07 Oct 2022 in News

While many South Africans are starving, government extended a loan of R63 million to Cuba in the previous financial year. More damning is that it is still embroiled in a court case over a decision last year to extend a donation of R50 million to Cuba.

This was revealed by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor, in the 2021/2022 Annual Report for the African Renaissance and International Cooperation Fund.

While Pandor explains that the R63 million ‘Economic Assistance Package’ is a loan, it does not negate the fact that government continues to be ready and willing to extend multi-million-rand contributions to Cuba.

The ANC government has continually stated Cuba’s financial difficulties as reason for giving away money we don’t have.

For a Department that recently released a paper on national interest, ostensibly informed by the needs of its people, it defies logic that it is much more concerned about the economic welfare of Cuba when there are millions of South Africans struggling to put food on the table.

The DA has submitted additional parliamentary questions to DIRCO to ascertain whether there are any more financial transfers that the government intends to extend to Cuba and the exact amounts thereof. If this is a loan as Minister Pandor claims, we challenge her to release the full details of the repayment plan and terms of the loan in the interest of transparency.  It is also not clear how much money is still owed by Cuba on previous loans.

We also call on her to reveal what equipment Cuba bought as she stated that the loan was used to buy equipment from South Africa. We believe the money could have been put to better use tackling the food crisis in South Africa.

The time has come for Parliament to seriously consider the rationale behind the African Renaissance and International Cooperation Fund when government interest is so far removed from the needs of its own people.