The government of South Africa defended this Wednesday his intentions to carry out donations millionaires to Cuba in terms of humanitarian aid, despite numerous criticisms, and despite the fact that the opposition has requested the appearance of the Foreign Minister before one of the Parliament committees.
“I am really amazed with this focused intention of highlighting Cuba when there are other humanitarian initiatives that South Africa has provided to other countries,” said the head of the South African International Relations and Cooperation portfolio, Naledi Pandor, in statements to South African radio 702 , quoted by the agency Eph.
South Africa cannot turn a blind eye to the plight of Cuba while illegal blockades and US sanctions strangle its economy.
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The minister answered like this after this Monday the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (AD), requested in writing the president of the Appropriations Committee of the South African Parliament, Sfiso Buthelezi, the appearance of Pandor to explain the donations to Cuba.
The Spanish media recalls that the controversy has its origin in a complaint that the Afrikaner pressure group Afriforum made against the Government to urgently prevent a donation of 50 million rands (about three million euros) that the Government of President Cyril Ramaphosa He was going to command the Executive in Havana, with which he has enjoyed very good relations for decades.
Both Afriforum and other civil organizations affirmed then that the donation was negligent towards the needs of the African country itself, which has not yet managed to overcome the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic and which suffers deep problems of inequality, unemployment and poverty.
The Justice, last March, agreed in the first instance with the plaintiffs and forced the South African Executive to paralyze the operation while the case was studied (still in court).
This Monday, Afriforum revealed that the amount against which it was protesting was actually only the first of several donations agreed between the two governments and that, in total, South Africa’s planned contributions amount to a total of 350 million rands (almost 21 millions of euros). In light of this information, the Democratic Alliance once again raised the tone of its criticism against the government and requested Pandor’s appearance before Parliament.
The official, in response and according to this report, today stressed her surprise and rejected the criticism, alleging that the donation is not a financial injection, but that it would be made in the form of humanitarian assistance material purchased from South African producers.
Pandor recalled that, due to the embargo that the United States maintains on the island, the Cuban government has difficult access to many products and related the political criticism against the donation with ideological motivations – specifically, with the fact that that nation has a communist government – and with an «anti-Cuban sentiment».
In this sense, the minister argued that if there were a cyclone in neighboring Mozambique and South Africa sent aid, nobody would protest and that, in any case, it is impracticable that the Ministry of International Relations has to justify before the courts any donation that it plans to make to other nations
Cuba and South Africa celebrated last year the 27th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations in a context of solid and special ties of friendship, collaboration and solidarity, in which bilateral cooperation has continuously expanded in various areas and especially in services of health.
Cuban doctors have provided their services in the African nation for a long period. Recently, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, members of the Henry Reeve International Contingent of Doctors Specialized in Disaster Situations and Serious Epidemics were deployed to six provinces, where they treated patients in red zones and isolation centers.
For his part, President Ramaphosa proposed that the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize be awarded to this contingent of doctors, in recognition of the work carried out to confront the pandemic in nearly 40 nations in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and the Middle East, including Mexico, Honduras, Venezuela , Haiti or Jamaica.