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South Africa pushes ahead with humanitarian aid to Cuba

Minister for International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor.

Minister for International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor.

Published Jun 20, 2022

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Cape Town - South Africa is still pushing ahead with its plans to donate humanitarian aid and health items to the Cuban people.

This emerged when International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor responded to parliamentary questions from DA leader John Steenhuisen.

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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.

This had prompted Steenhuisen to ask Pandor the exact details of the humanitarian aid and health items that would be donated.

He also enquired the names of companies that would be contracted to provide the humanitarian aid to Cuba and whether steps would be taken to ensure the specified companies would not pay kickbacks to any persons or political organisations for access to the contracts.

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In her written response, 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.

She also said the African Renaissance Fund advisory committee recommended R50 million for urgent humanitarian assistance for the procurement of South African food and medical items.

“The minister of finance, in a letter dated August 13, 2021, gave concurrence to release an amount of R50m from the African Renaissance Fund to fund the requested humanitarian assistance to Cuba,” she said.

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“The procurement process on this matter has not been finalised and is currently on hold as per the interdict by the Gauteng High Court on March 22, 2022,” Pandor said.

The court refused to grant leave to appeal by the Department of International Relations and Co-operation against an interdict obtained by civil rights group Afriforum to stop the R50m donation.

Pandor previously said the government was prepared to act in solidarity with the Cuban people.

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She has insisted that the Cuban nation stood shoulder to shoulder with combatants in the Struggle for freedom.

“It would be unjustified and unethical to turn our backs on their hour of need,” she said.

Cape Times

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