Today, Minister of Trade and Industry (DTI), Rob Davies and the Cuban Ambassador to South Africa, Mr Carlos Fernandez de Cossio, signed an ‘economic assistance package’ that will see South Africa giving R350 million to Cuba to ‘strengthen trade relations’, including a R100 million ‘Solidarity Grant’.
This R350 million giveaway to Cuba is a misuse of public money. The ‘cash crunch’ in South Africa’s budget is well known – we cannot afford to hand out money to Cuba for no other purpose than to maintain the political ties between the ANC and the authoritarian Castro regime. There is no value for South Africa in this deal, and we should not be strengthening our ties with governments that do not respect basic constitutional and democratic principles.
Cuban law limits freedom of expression, association, assembly, movement and the press. Human Rights Watch has documented evidence of systematic human rights abuses in Cuba, including torture, arbitrary imprisonment and extrajudicial executions. There are today many political prisoners in Cuba who have been imprisoned simply for speaking up against the actions of the Cuban government. It is a tragic irony that South Africa is helping to fund a regime that denies its citizens the same democratic freedoms that were so hard won in our own country.
If the ANC wants to support the Castro government then it should use Luthuli House money to do so. It should not make South Africa pay.
According to Minister Davies, the funds will be administered via the Department of International Relations and Cooperation’s (DIRCO) African Renaissance Fund, and include:
A R40 million seed project,
R100 million funding to support an irrigation pipeline system;
R210 million in credit, to be spent at the discretion of the Cuban regime; and
In the coming month, 17 South African companies along with the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mzwandile Masina, will travel to Cuba’s Havana Trade Conference.
We condemn this handout in the strongest terms.
South Africa Today – South Africa News