President Cyril Ramaphosa has divided South Africans after announcing that Cabinet has approved a proposal to nominate the Cuban Medical Brigade for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.
Ramaphosa made the announcement on Monday after receiving country’s first consignment of Covid-19 vaccines.
He said: “This evening, I wish to recognise in particular the selfless and unwavering assistance of the government and people of Cuba.
“True to its history, this small island nation has demonstrated solidarity with the hardest hit countries and sent more than 3,700 Cubans throughout the world to assist in the fight against Covid-19.
“In Africa alone, the Brigade had treated more than 38,000 people by the end of November 2020. They are currently still active in many countries, including here in South Africa.
“We extend our sincerest gratitude to the people of Cuba for this great demonstration of solidarity and humanity.”
In response the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) supported the move but asked South Africa to take it a step further.
“Cuba’s role in fighting the pandemic should be acknowledged and accompanied by lifting of all trade and economic barriers and blockage imposed by the USA.
“Cuba has demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that it can and will play an important role in the global healthcare system, particularly in this age of a devastating and fatal pandemic,” said the party in a statement.
However, some South Africans have taken to social media to voice their disapproval of the President, arguing the country has its own people who deserve the recognition.
Action SA leader Herman Mashaba also slammed the announcement, and said the country’s frontline healthcare workers deserved the recognition.
“I, Herman Mashaba, citizen of the Republic of South Africa, nominates our very own South African Frontline Doctors, Nurses and Ancillary Workers for the Nobel Peace Prize, instead of Cubans Doctors as proposed.”
Some have argued that the Gift of the Givers deserves the recognition for doing what government could not do in many instances.
Recently, the NGO upgraded accommodation for medical staff at the Bhisho Hospital in the Eastern Cape.
The upgraded accommodation, which cost R3 million, was completed in a month, with Gift of the Givers building team working through Christmas and the new year period.