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Court turns down government’s application for leave to appeal interdict on R50m donation to Cuba

Minister of the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, Naledi Pandor. Picture: File

Minister of the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, Naledi Pandor. Picture: File

Published May 10, 2022

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Pretoria - The Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, on Tuesday turned down the government’s application for leave to appeal against the court’s ruling in which it provisionally interdicted the government from donating R50 million to Cuba.

Minister of the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco), Naledi Pandor, applied for leave to appeal the entire judgment and order delivered in March. Dirco has meanwhile also lodged leave to appeal applications to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein, and to the Constitutional Court.

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AfriForum earlier obtained the urgent interdict to stop what it deemed to be a “ludicrous” donation amid a serious economic crisis.

The second part of the application, to be heard at a later date is still to be determined. This will involve submitting a review application to overturn the government’s decision to donate the funds to Cuba.

Judge Brenda Neukircher, in turning down Dirco’s application for leave to appeal, said as the order she made in March was only an interim order - pending the outcome of the review proceedings - it is not appealable.

Dirco meanwhile has the option to either approach the SCA or the Constitutional Court directly for leave to appeal.

Counsel appearing for Dirco on Tuesday argued that there were good prospects that another court would come to a different finding than that of Judge Neukircher. The judge, however, did not comment on this as her refusal was based on her finding that an interim order is not appealable.

AfriForum earlier asked the court to stop the payment of the millions by Dirco’s African Renaissance and International Co-operation Fund (ARF), pending the review of the move.

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AfriForum meanwhile opposed Dirco’s application for leave to appeal on the grounds that the urgent interdict was granted on an interim basis pending the outcome of the later review application of the decision to make the donation.

The organisation argued that there is no reason to appeal an urgent court order and that the government will receive an opportunity to make its case when the review application is heard.

The R50m, to which AfriForum is opposed to being donated to the Government of Cuba, is part of R71m rolled over from the 2020/21 financial year.

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Judge Neukircher, during her judgment in March, 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 has demonstrated that irreparable harm would be caused if this interdict is not granted.

“The public purse stands to lose R50-million which will affect every single South African on many levels,” the judge said at the time.

Pretoria News

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