Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)
Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Sisulu defends Cuban engineers amid attack from opposition

By Baldwin Ndaba Time of article published Apr 21, 2021

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Johannesburg - Human Settlement, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has defended her decision to hire 24 Cuban engineers to help fix leaks and other water problems, including the Vaal River spillage.

Sisulu was reacting to mounting attacks from ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba and AfriForum that were protesting against the appointment.

In her defence, she said: “The core objective of the agreement is to second Cuban engineers in infrastructure maintenance and operation skills throughout the water value chain from source to tap, with the majority being seconded at water/river clusters and at municipalities to provide training and build capacity to SA candidate engineers and artisans in all the identified municipalities.”

Earlier, Mashaba condemned the government, saying those who made such a decision had ignored locally trained and unemployed engineers.

Mashaba said in doing so the government has added insult to injury with R400 million already spent on importing Cuban doctors to combat the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa.

“Our government has failed to maintain, repair and renew the infrastructure in South Africa, creating an infrastructure crisis. In the City of Johannesburg, when I became mayor in 2016, there was a R177 billion unfunded infrastructure backlog.

“Country-wide this is a feature of tenders being seen as the ringing of the dinner bell for corrupt ANC cadres,” Mashaba said. “After just concluding the Hammanskraal Water Hearings, which spent R295 million on the Free State asbestos project company owned by Edwin Sodi,” Mashaba said.

South Africa has some of the best engineers in the world, Mashaba said, who graduate from South African funded universities. As a result of economic mismanagement and the impact of the lockdown, many were sitting at home unemployed, he added.

“To import Cuban engineers who qualified from lower standard universities than our own world-class engineers is criminal. How do Cuban engineers or doctors fit into the sliding scale of affirmative action?

“Like the import of Cuban doctors, the import of Cuban engineers is 100% about the ANC scratching the back of a country that it has historical links with,” Mashaba said.

“Cuba itself is a disaster, a country 40-50 years behind South Africa where very little works, much less the infrastructure.

“If the ANC wants to assist the Cuban government, it should do so itself and not waste another cent of South African public money on its vanity projects,” the ActionSA leader said.

The former Joburg mayor said his party was calling on every unemployed South African engineer to “Act As One”, saying ActionSA would be establishing an online site where unemployed, qualified South African engineers could register their details like his party did with unemployed doctors and medical professionals.

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