Independent Online

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView weather by locationView market indicators

SA will donate humanitarian aid and health items, not money to Cuba, says President Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa

Published Apr 18, 2022


CAPE TOWN - President Cyril Ramaphosa says South Africa will donate humanitarian aid and health items, not money, to Cuba in response to a request for humanitarian assistance.

Ramaphosa said so in response to parliamentary questions from DA leader John Steenhuisen.

Story continues below Advertisement

Steenhuisen asked whether Ramaphosa was advised of the government’s R50 million donation to Cuba to assist with the food security threat in the face of sanctions against Cuba by the US.

The DA leader also enquired if his office approved the donation and asked for justification for giving the R50m to Cuba when there was a hunger crisis in the country.

The parliamentary question came at a time the civil rights organisation AfriForum was granted an interdict stopping the payment pending an application to review and set aside the decision of the Department of International Relations and Co-operation.

Story continues below Advertisement

In his written response, Ramaphosa said the approval process prescribed in terms of the African Renaissance and International Co-operation Fund Act did not have a requirement that the president is advised on decisions relating to the utilisation of the funds in the African Renaissance Fund.

“I am informed that humanitarian aid and health items, and not money, will be provided to Cuba in response to a request from Cuba for humanitarian assistance,” he said.

Ramaphosa also said South Africa has been and continues to be the recipient of assistance from other countries, both in the form of humanitarian aid and development aid in areas like education and health.

Story continues below Advertisement

“These acts of solidarity provide welcome support to our efforts to improve the lives of South Africans.

“In the same spirit, South Africa set up a mechanism in the form of the African Renaissance Fund (ARF) to enable us to provide support to people of other countries when they are in need.”

He also said the humanitarian aid provided to the people of Cuba arose from South Africa’s commitment to assist other countries just as it has been assisted.

Story continues below Advertisement

Responding to a parliamentary question in March, International Relations and Co-operation Minister Naledi Pandor said the Cuban government called on South Africa and other partner countries in their hour of need in July 2021.

Cuba was experiencing chronic shortages of food, fuel, medicine and electricity during its worst economic crisis in 30 years, caused by the devastation of the Covid-19 pandemic and sanctions imposed by the US.

Pandor said, at the time, South Africa responded to the call for humanitarian assistance in the context of reciprocity and its historical friendship and solidarity with Cuba, which was cemented through Cuba’s sacrifices during the struggle for freedom.

She said Cuba had also responded without hesitance to South Africa’s call for medical professionals to assist during the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The minister said the ARF, which is in her department, was coordinating the project with relevant stakeholders, following all necessary legal prescripts.

“The required concurrence to release an amount of R50 million from the African Renaissance Fund was provided by the Minister of Finance, after which the acting director-general of Dirco approved that the request for humanitarian assistance by Cuba be implemented through the supply chain management processes as regulated by the Public Finance Management Act,” she said last month.

Related Topics:

Cyril Ramaphosa