Cape Town - International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor has revealed that the South African government loaned Cuba R147.6 million over the past four years.
DA leader John Steenhuisen wrote to Pandor enquiring about the full details of all monies, loans, aid and goods and services that have been spent on Cuba since President Cyril Ramaphosa was elected to office in February 2018.
Steenhuisen also also asked why the government had chosen Cuba as a beneficiary of South African aid and assistance.
In her written reply, Pandor said a R147 631 000 loan was made available to Cuba under an economic assistance agreement for agricultural development projects as well as reconstruction of infrastructure.
She said the loan was divided into two tranches.
“The first tranche of R63 million was made available in 2018. The Cuban government has fully repaid the loan,” she said.
“The second tranche of R84 631 000 million was made available in 2021. The Cuban government has been repaying the loan since December 2021,” Pandor added.
She said the relationship between South Africa and Cuba dates back well before the 1994 democratic elections.
“The friendship and solidarity with Cuba should be viewed within the context of the significant contribution that Cuba made to the liberation of South Africa.”
The details about the loan comes a week after the Northern Gauteng High Court rejected a leave to appeal application by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation against an interdict obtained by Afriforum stopping the R50m.
But Pandor said the government was prepared to act in solidarity with the Cuban people.
“We can’t turn a blind eye to their plight while their economy is strangled by illegal blockade and sanctions. The Cuban economy has been brought to its knees by the US draconian economic sanctions imposed on the impoverished island,” she said during a budget mini-debate on Friday.
Pandor indicated that support would still be provided to Cuba.
“We plan to provide humanitarian aid to Cuba of food and medical suppliers, which will be purchased from South African companies and shipped to Cuba to support that nation in its suffering,” the minister said.