President Cyril Ramaphosa has nominated the Cuban Medical Brigade for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, but the DA and Action SA are not happy, saying South Africa’s health workers were more deserving.
The Cuban white coats have been assisting all over the world during the pandemic, in countries such as China, Italy and many African states. There were at least 3 700 Cuban medical professionals dispatched around the globe in the fight against Covid-19.
They arrived in South Africa to much fanfare in April last year.
DA health spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube said the decision to nominate the Cuban doctors ahead of 1 million health workers was bizarre.
“No one will ever argue that we cannot express gratitude to international partners who have assisted the country in this journey, but that surely cannot be done by overlooking the monumental sacrifice done by our health-care workers under impossible conditions.
“It is for this reason that the DA will submit its own application to the Nobel Foundation for consideration for 2022 since this year’s nominations have closed,” she said.
Gwarube said South African health workers were deserving of nomination as they had worked during the pandemic despite getting no salary increases, a lack of PPE, and hundreds of health workers had succumbed to the virus.
“It is unthinkable that this great sacrifice would be ignored and there would be disproportionate recognition given to the Cuban Medical Brigade which was contracted to South Africa at the tune of almost R240m for a year.
“The efficacy of this deployment is yet to be proven in the greater scheme of the country’s fight against Covid-19. Yet the very people who have stitched together our broken health-care system have simply been given platitudes to show our gratitude as a country,” said Gwarube.
Herman Mashaba, the leader of Action SA, said the decision to nominate the Cuban doctors was a slap in the face of South African health workers.
“I, Herman Mashaba, citizen of the Republic of South Africa, nominate our very own South African frontline doctors, nurses and ancillary Workers for the Nobel Peace Prize, instead of Cubans doctors as proposed by @PresidencyZA”
I, Herman Mashaba, citizen of the Republic of South Africa, nominates our very own South African Frontline Doctors, Nurses & Ancillary Workers for the Nobel Peace Prize, instead of Cubans Doctors as proposed by @PresidencyZA @bonglez https://t.co/q5Ykw2xRQ7— Herman Mashaba (@HermanMashaba) February 2, 2021
“I am calling on every South African to declare their support for SA health-care workers. Let them receive the highest recognition for their heroic service.
“It is a slap in the face for Cabinet to have resolved to nominate the Cuban doctors for the Nobel Peace Prize,” said Mashaba.
I am calling on every South African to declare their support for SA healthcare workers. Let them receive the highest recognition for their heroic service.— Herman Mashaba (@HermanMashaba) February 2, 2021
It is a slap in the face for Cabinet to have resolved to nominate the Cuban doctors for the Nobel Peace Prize! https://t.co/wCKj0ml2fA
Ramaphosa said the Henry Reeve International Contingent of Doctors Specialised in Disaster Situations and Serious Epidemics – known as the Cuban Medical Brigade – would be nominated for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize after the Cabinet took a resolution.
“Since the very first case of Covid-19 was discovered in our country, we have mobilised all of the resources at our disposal to protect the lives and livelihoods of all South Africans.
“We have been extremely fortunate to receive support from all over the world.
“This evening, I wish to recognise in particular the selfless and unwavering assistance of the government and people of Cuba.
“True to its history, this small island nation has demonstrated solidarity with the hardest hit countries and sent more than 3 700 Cubans throughout the world to assist in the fight against Covid-19,” said Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa said the Cuban white coats had treated nearly 40 000 people on the African continent and were still actively at work in the fight against the pandemic.
“We extend our sincerest gratitude to the people of Cuba for this great demonstration of solidarity and humanity.
“Like so many people around the world, we have suffered tremendous loss and endured great sacrifices.
“Our lives have changed in profound ways, and we have been forced to adapt to a new and difficult circumstance,” he said.
Nominations and submissions for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize closed on Sunday night.
“In order to be considered for the award of the year, nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize shall be sent in to the Norwegian Nobel Committee in Oslo before the 1st day of February the same year.
“Nominations postmarked and received after this date are included in the following year’s discussions. In recent years, the committee has received close to 200 different nominations for different nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize,” reads a notice on the Nobel Peace Prize’s website.
Between February and March, a committee will assess the nominations and prepare a short list. In October, the Nobel Laureates are chosen and the committee chooses the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates through a majority vote.
“The decision is final and without appeal. The names of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates are then announced”.
Reacting to the news of the nomination on social media, South Africans were divided on the call, with some expressing that South African health workers and the Gift of the Givers were more deserving.
Others did support the nomination of the Cuban doctors, however.
Dear @NobelPrize— Warren Nebe (@WarrenNebe) February 2, 2021
We, the people from Africa nominate @GiftoftheGivers for the Nobel Peace Prize.#GiftoftheGivers #NobelPeacePrize @MaxduPreez@mazzamaxim @mthombothi@ChangeAgentSA @UrbanLo
Nobel peace prize for Cuban Drs, I welcome that. 👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿if we could give murderers why not Nobel Drs🤷🏿♂️— Mathibela (@MJ_Mahlaela) February 2, 2021
So SA pays Cuba for services provided by their medical personnel, and then nominates them for the Nobel Peace Prize... And Gift of the Givers doesn't get a nomination?— Chris Hattingh (@ChrisHatt11) February 2, 2021
Hope the Angolan govt supports the initiative to nominate the Cuban internationalists for Nobel Peace Prize. The peace we enjoy in Southern Africa today is thanks to the sacrifices made by Cuban internationalists in Angola.— Elijah Mahlangu (@ekmahlangu) February 1, 2021
Viva Fidel Castro Viva - When a visionary builds capacity for a generation of humans through their sheer brilliance #TheCubanBrigade nominated by SA for the Nobel Peace Prize. Best news of the day.— @VanessaPerumal (@vanessaperumal) February 1, 2021