Trade union Solidarity says it has sent a list of 120 “competent and willing engineers” to Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu amid controversy over the “import” of 24 Cuban engineers.
In a statement on Friday, Solidarity CEO Dr Dirk Hermann said the local engineers “offer more expertise at a lower cost than the import of Cuban engineers suggest.”
‘Experienced and knowledgeable’
“We have reached out to the Minister with a list of some of the country’s most experienced and knowledgeable specialists in engineering, some of whom retain masters and doctoral degrees and others who have up to 42 years of experience. They are ready and willing to immediately start with work,” Hermann said.
“Furthermore, our list contains specialists in several fields of engineering and project management, but should the Minister require other expertise we can find those skills with the help of our Engineering Guild. There is simply no excuse not to use our own intellectual and practical resources.”
Sisulu welcomed the Cuban engineers on Thursday, insisting that they will help train South Africa’s candidate engineers and artisans in various municipalities.
“Cuba has had similar challenges we are currently facing as a country. They have overcome them and the engineers are here to assist us. They will teach and show us how to overcome these challenges,” she said during the welcome ceremony held in Pretoria.
The engineers are in South Africa as part of a 2014 bilateral agreement between the two countries on co-operation in water resource management and water supply.
However, Hermann said it is “unjustified” to import foreign workers while South Africa experiences high levels of unemployment.
“It is a shame that the government itself does not take the President’s call earlier this year to support local employees and businesses seriously,” he added.
“If the Minister was truly unable to find local workers who wanted to do the work, then she did not search very hard. Thus, we will bring the engineers to her.”
The union accused the government of exacerbating wastage of taxpayers money by “deliberately spending taxes on foreign employees with dubious expertise.”
According to a News24 report, Sisulu’s Department said the budget for the Cuban engineers is R64.65 million for this financial year.