Vhahangwele Nemakonde
Digital Night Supervisor
2 minute read
12 May 2022
11:03 pm

SA will not turn a blind eye to Cuba’s plight, Pandor tells parliament

Vhahangwele Nemakonde

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor says South Africa should not turn its back on Cuba during its time of need. Pandor delivered her department’s budget vote in parliament on Thursday and said South Africa should do what it can to assist its partners. The department has been allocated just over R6.6 billion for […]

Minister of International Relations and Coorperation Naledi Pandor. Picture; Gallo Images/Sydney Seshibedi

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor says South Africa should not turn its back on Cuba during its time of need.

Pandor delivered her department’s budget vote in parliament on Thursday and said South Africa should do what it can to assist its partners.

The department has been allocated just over R6.6 billion for this financial year, an increase of about 1.3% from the 2020/21 allocation.

“Our department requires great allocation of resources in order to carry out its assigned work in the 116 diplomatic missions, in 102 countries in which our country has representation,” said Pandor.

She said while her department was aware that South Africa is constrained financially, it could not sit back and watch as Cubans languish in poverty.

“We receive requests from various partners to mitigate circumstances of extreme poverty and providing support in disaster relief, we will continue within our ability to provide what we can,” said Pandor.

ALSO READ: Dirco’s not giving up on giving Cuba R50 million, despite court loss

“We are also prepared to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Cuba as we cannot turn a blind eye to their plight, while their economy is strangled by illegal blockades and sanctions. The Cuban economy has been brought to its knees after 61 years of draconian US economic sanctions imposed on that impoverished island nation. This is a nation that stood shoulder to shoulder with our combatants in the struggle for freedom and we must help if we can.”

Dirco outraged South Africans earlier this year after Deputy Minister Alvin Botes informed the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation about the country’s intentions to donate R50 to Cuba.

This as the country battles food security challenges amid the sanctions imposed by the United States of America.

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 at the time.

AfriForum has since taken Dirco to court over the matter and in March, obtained an interim interdict to stop the donation.

On Tuesday, the High Court in Pretoria rejected a leave to appeal the application lodged by Dirco against the interdict obtained by AfriForum preventing it from donating the R50 million to Cuba.