LOBBY group AfriForum revealed on Monday that court records shows that the government is actually planning to donate R350 million, and not just R50 million, to Cuba.
This was revealed after the civil rights organisation’s legal team requested the court record as part of its review application.
AfriForum said according to the record, the government has agreed to a contract with the government of Cuba, in terms of which the R50 million will only be the first payment in the more than a quarter billion rand donation.
AfriForum’s legal team is now preparing its supplementary affidavit following receipt of the court record for its review application, saod Reiner Duvenage, Campaign Officer for strategy and content at AfriForum.
“The revelations of the court record are truly earth-shattering. It is now clear that the government is actually planning on donating more than a quarter billion rand to Cuba,” said Duvenage.
This contract to donate R350 million does not accord with the laws of South Africa, and it is completely irrational to make such an exorbitant donation in these difficult times. Our government borrows money from the IMF, but then sees it fit to donate much-needed funds to Cuba. Despite this outrageous news, AfriForum is more optimistic than ever that we will succeed in stopping this donation.”
Following the disclosure, the DA announced on Monday that it had written to the Chairperson of the Appropriations Committee, Sifiso Buthelezi MP, to summons the Department of International Relations and Cooperation to appear before the committee to explain why, based on information exposed in court filings, it intends to donate R350 million to Cuba.
“This amount is far more than the R50 million that has already caused in uproar in civil society, and is a slap in the face of South Africans facing rising prices, food insecurity, and in Kwa-Zulu Natal, citizens are struggling to recover from the recent flooding while very little funding has been released for recovery,” said Ashor Sarupen, DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Finance.
“Parliament is in the midst of interrogating the budget ahead of a full vote later this month, and the DA intends to ask the department before the Appropriations Committee why it has chosen to donate such a large sum of money when South Africa is struggling financially, when government debt is through the roof, and when public services are failing. The DA further intends to ask why the department would not rather elect to surrender these funds to disaster relief efforts in Kwa-Zulu Natal.”
Sarupen said the Appropriations Committee is the only committee in parliament with the power to amend the budget, adding that the DA will further lobby parties represented on the committee to reject this allocation and “amend the budget to strip DIRCO of this allocation if it proceeds to defend the indefensible – giving R350 million based on extinct cold war politics rather than taking care of struggling citizens at home.”
The DA will be announcing further action steps in relation to this matter in the coming days, said Sarupen.