Cuba med students ‘embarrassment’ - Dhlomo
Durban - Medical students studying in Cuba have been told to stop spending their time preaching and focus on their studies.
KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Health Sibongiseni Dhlomo said those caught “abusing government resources” by preaching and praying in study time would be sent home to continue living in poverty.
The Cuban studies programme mostly targets students from disadvantaged families, and they are funded by the government.
Dhlomo said the Cuban government had complained the students had become a “nuisance”, disrupting traffic by preaching in busy streets.
“We are going to identify you and move you back to South Africa and you will pay back the government money,” said Dhlomo.
He said when students finished their lessons at 3pm they should take a short break, go to the sporting or gym facilities for exercise and come back from 5pm to 6pm for supper. At 7pm they should study and be asleep by 10pm.
Dhlomo said he was not against students praying, but that they should not compromise their medical careers. He warned them to respect Cuban culture.
“Some of you pray on the streets. You cannot go stopping cars to pray for them … You cannot do that. Cubans do pray, but they prefer to pray in their houses,” he said.
He also warned students to stop importing Cuban cigars to sell in South Africa. He said others demanded to live in single accommodation instead of sharing.
“It is embarrassing … Cubans think you are too full of yourselves,” he said, adding that the Cuban health minister had complained the students indulged in alcohol and got into fights.
But students said Dhlomo’s concerns were exaggerated.
“Religion is not common in Cuba … Cuban laws are very strict, and alcohol is mostly allowed only for tourists,” said a third-year student who asked not to be identified.
Department of Health youth development head Monica Jama has called on South African medical students in Cuba to be ‘good ambassadors’ by defending President Jacob Zuma when Cubans ask them about the R246 million spent upgrading Zuma’s Nkandla home.
‘You should not laugh and say, “This government is compromising us,” without even knowing what is really happening in Nkandla.
‘When they start raising these things about your president you must defend your country,’ she said.