Cape Town - International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor has stuck to her guns on the planned donation of humanitarian aid and health items to Cuba.
Pandor has insisted that Parliament was officially informed about the planned donation.
She made the statement after DA MP Willem Frederik Faber wrote to her asking the reasons for information being withheld from Parliament and the public.
Faber also wanted to know the total number of other deals and donations that are in the pipeline with Cuba that is being withheld from Parliament and the public.
He said it was revealed in the AfriForum court case against the government that the grand total of the donation to Cuba was actually R350 million and not just R50 million.
“This was revealed after the civil rights organisation’s legal team requested the court record as part of its review application, and taking into account that, according to the record, the government has agreed to a contract with the government of the Republic of Cuba, in terms of which the R50 million will only be the first payment in the more than a quarter billion rand donation,” Faber said.
In April, Independent Media reported that President Cyril Ramaphosa said South Africa would donate humanitarian aid and health items, not money, to Cuba in response to a request for humanitarian assistance.
Last week Pandor said Cuba had requested assistance with regards to food shortages, especially products such as powdered milk, rice, canned meat, canned fish, cooking oil and beans.
In her written reply, Pandor said there was no link between what was currently before the courts, namely the donation of humanitarian aid by the South African government to the amount of R50 million to Cuba, and the agreement that was signed in 2012 to make available an Economic Assistance Package (EAP) of R350 million to Cuba that consisted of grants and a loan facility, to be repaid, with interest.
“The information regarding the Economic Assistance Package of R350 million was shared with Parliament in response to parliamentary question 1665 from the leader of the opposition (DA) about government expenditure on Cuba since 15 February 2018.
“Updates on the implementation of the Economic Assistance Package were also provided to the parliamentary portfolio committee on international relations and Cooperation,” she said.
Pandor also said all relevant information about the R350 million EAP and R50 million humanitarian assistance had been disclosed to Parliament.
“No information regarding donations to the Republic of Cuba has been withheld from Parliament and the public,” she added.