Vhahangwele Nemakonde
Digital Night Supervisor
2 minute read
2 Feb 2022
8:33 pm

Uproar over South Africa’s R50 million donation to Cuba

Vhahangwele Nemakonde

The R50 million donation to Cuba is one of the initiatives the country has undertaken as it seeks to strengthen relations with other countries.

Motorcyclists flutter a Cuban flag as they take part in a caravan against the US embargo against Cuba past the revolutionary leader Argentine-born Ernesto “Che” Guevara (1928-1967) mausoleum in Santa Clara, Villa Clara province, Cuba on January 30, 2022. (Photo by Yamil LAGE / AFP)

Outraged South Africans have taken to social media to voice their opinion on South Africa’s donation to Cuba as the country battles food security challenges amid the sanctions imposed by the United States of America.

Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Alvin Botes informed the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation about the donation on Wednesday.

The R50 million donation to Cuba is one of the initiatives the country has undertaken as it seeks to strengthen relations with other countries.

“I thought it is important that the parliamentary committee to get briefed about the fact that we have committed to allocate an amount of R50 million for special intervention purposes as it relates to the Cuban people, who have experienced food security challenges, because of the sanctions levelled against the people of Cuba by the United States of America,” Botes told the committee.

The announcement has outraged South Africans as they question why a country with high unemployment and poverty rates saw it fit to allocate such a large sum of money to Cuba.

Cuba marked six decades under American sanctions last week, and Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Fernandez de Cossio, in an interview with AFP, said the effects of the US blockade against communist Cuba were now “greater than ever.”

Hit by a sharp drop in tourist numbers due partly to the blockade and partly to the Covid-19 pandemic, Cuba recorded an 11 percent economic decline in 2020, followed by a modest two percent recovery last year.

Cuba recorded an official inflation rate of 70 percent in 2021 amid its worst economic crisis in almost three decades, with food imports slashed due to dwindling government reserves.

There were hopes of a change of direction when President Joe Biden entered the White House, but not one sanction has been lifted during his first year in office.

During his presidential campaign, Biden had promised a “new policy towards Cuba” and the lifting of certain restrictions.

Additional reporting by AFP