On Tuesday (22 March), the Pretoria high court issued an interim interdict against a Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) decision to send humanitarian aid worth R50 million to Cuba, but the Department isn’t giving up the fight.
In a statement on Wednesday, DIRCO Minister Dr Naledi Pandor said her Department is “preparing to return to court” in 20 days’ time.
R50m Cuba donation battle continues
“We are studying the judgment. It is an interim order. There will be a return to court in 20 days’ time. We are consulting our legal representatives and preparing our heads of arguments,” Pandor said.
“And we want to make it clear that the African Renaissance fund does not provide money to any beneficiary. We provide humanitarian aid, be it food, medical supplies, or other forms of support.
“No money is provided and the funds lie within the budget of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation and no other department. Nevertheless, we are preparing to return to court.”
In July last year, Cuba appealed to the South African government to provide emergency assistance consisting of food and medical supplies. South Africa approved the request, but civil rights group AfriForum filed an interim interdict application in court pending an application to review the decision.
AfirForum ‘pleased’ with ruling
AfriForum welcomed the ruling in a statement on Tuesday and slammed the donation as “ludicrous amid a serious economic crisis.”
“We are pleased that we have managed to stop this unlawful and shameful donation in its tracks,” the group’s Campaign Officer for strategy and content said.
“We are now optimistic that our review application will succeed in making a final end to the matter. AfriForum pledges to continue its fight against outrageous and wasteful expenditure which is squandering taxpayers’ money.”
In an interview with EWN, Duvenage also claimed the government had not obtained approval from Parliament for the donation. This, he claimed, made the donation “unconstitutional.”
“According to the Public France Management Act, the legislature has to give approval for any payment higher than R100,000 and this did not happen so the necessary parliamentary process was not followed. So, it’s impossible that the minister could’ve given approval for this donation,” he said.
South Africa maintains close relations with Cuba dating back to the ANC’s links with the Caribbean country during the anti-apartheid struggle.