A controversial R350-million “economic assistance package” SA plans to give to Cuba sparked heated debate in Parliament on Wednesday.
Earlier this month, the portfolio committee on trade and industry ratified – by a single vote – an agreement entered into after President Jacob Zuma visited the country last year.
The deal includes a R100m “solidarity grant” – which will not have to be repaid, in addition to a loan of R250m.
The loan includes R40m to purchase seeds – of which R5m must be spent on SA seeds – and a further R210m in tranched loans.
While the ANC cited Cuba’s solidarity with the liberation struggle in SA as reason enough to justify the package, opposition parties highlighted Cuba’s human rights record and said the money could have been better spent on pressing needs at home.