The Democratic Alliance has revealed that it will submit Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) applications to various government departments to obtain the full details of employment agreements between the South African and Cuban governments.
The party said a large amount of money had been spent over the years on agreements to employ Cuban workers and service providers with “very little details” known about the agreements.
“For the better part of a decade, the ANC government has spent more than R1.4 billion on agreements to employ Cubans,” reads the DA’s statement.
The party wants an explanation about the full breakdown of payments to the Cuban workers, including salaries, accommodation and travelling fees.
Among other things, the party wants to know:
- Whether payments are made directly to the workers or if payments are made to the Cuban government directly;
- If the Cuban government receives financial incentives from these agreements;
- If a skills audit is done in South Africa to find out what critical skills are needed the local professionals do not have, and
- Whether an impact assessment is done after these deployments, to ascertain the necessity of the continuation of these agreements.
The party said the deals did not make sense.
“The DA does not believe these agreements are as straightforward as the government would like the public to believe,” said DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone.
“It simply makes no sense why the South African government would fork out billions of rands to pay for the skills and services from Cuba when there are unemployed and qualified workers across South Africa in all the identified fields desperate for employment,” explained Mazzone.
The most recent scandals for government was the hiring of Cuban engineers by the department of human settlements, water and sanitation and teachers by the department of basic education.
Basic education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said the Cuban teachers were hired to boost mathematics and science in the country.
“If you looked at the research that was done and the improvement we made to the system, it was because of the contribution they [the Cuban specialists] made,” he said during an interview with Power FM.
The same sentiments were echoed by the department of human settlement in its defence that the engineers had been roped in to impart skills to local industry.
Compiled by Siyanda Ndlovu