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Court sets aside South Africa’s R50m donation to Cuba following review application brought by AfriForum

Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo. Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency (ANA)

Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo. Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Oct 27, 2023


Pretoria - The government is still barred from donating R50 million to Cuba after the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, this week overturned the decision following a review application brought by AfriForum.

The civil rights organisation AfriForum successfully stopped the government’s intended R50m donation to the Cuban government by the Department of International Relations and Co-operation.

Last year, AfriForum obtained an urgent interdict to prevent the department from donating the R50m. The government’s attempt to appeal was dismissed.

In the review application, AfriForum asked for the donation to be set aside, that the decision made by the National Treasury to approve the donation be set aside, and the decision to send the money may not be allowed. Furthermore, that any future donation to Cuba may not be allowed without parliamentary approval as written in the organisation’s request.

AfriForum said the South African government was in a serious financial crisis and could not afford to irrationally donate such an exorbitant amount of money.

“A country with a struggling economy and government on the verge of running out of money cannot hand out tens of millions to its friends,” Charné Mostert, campaign officer at AfriForum, said.

The planned R50m donated to the government of Cuba, was part of R71m rolled over from the 2020/21 financial year.

In February last year, South Africa woke up to the news that the government, through the department, had decided to donate the R50m to Cuba.

The department maintained that the donation was to be made in relation to humanitarian assistance and would come from the African Renaissance Fund.

Following a successful urgent application by AfriForum last year to temporarily halt the donation, pending this review application, Judge Brenda Neukircher, said given the fact that the government refused to give an undertaking not to continue with the donation pending the outcome of future proceedings, AfriForum had demonstrated that irreparable harm would be caused if this interdict was not granted.

In his review judgment delivered this week, Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo said the donation decision was executive in nature and subject to legal scrutiny.

He said the donation decision “suffered from illegality” in that it was not taken by a quorum advisory committee.

“This means that the donation decision is liable to be reviewed and set aside,” he said.

The DA applauded the judgment and said the announcement last year that the government would donate R50m to Cuba, triggered public outrage, leading AfriForum to take the matter to court.

“We call on the Department of International Relations and Co-operation to redirect funds intended for Cuba towards pressing domestic issues like health care, education and job creation,” the party said.

Pretoria News