Cape Town – One SA Movement leader Mmusi Maimane has criticised the South African government’s donation of R50 million to the Cuban government.
Maimane took to social media over the weekend and tweeted:
“Dear Cuba. About that R50m, we need it back.
Our own doctors have not been paid and are being fired while we have a shortage of doctors and medical practitioners.
Send the R50 million back as a matter of urgency.
— Mmusi Maimane (@MmusiMaimane) March 13, 2022
“Our own doctors have not been paid and are being fired while we have a shortage of doctors and medical practitioners. Send the R50m back as a matter of urgency.”
Maimane’s remarks came after South Africans last month reacted to reports that the South African government had plans to donate R50 million to Cuba to help that country with its dwindling food security amid sanctions imposed by the United States of America.
According to The Citizen, the news was brought to the attention of the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation by Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Alvin Botes.
“I thought it is important that the parliamentary committee gets briefed about the fact that we have committed to allocate an amount of R50 million for special intervention purposes as it relates to the Cuban people, who have experienced food security challenges, because of the sanctions levelled against the people of Cuba by the United States of America,” the report quoted Botes as saying.
Recent media reports indicated that the health department was paying high salaries to 14 Cuban doctors based in the country while leaving local doctors unpaid.
According to IOL, this was revealed during a response by Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi to Gauteng Legislature questions posed by the DA’s Jack Bloom.
Bloom wanted to know why the department continued to pay high salaries to Cuban doctors despite expired contracts and unemployed local doctors.
“The Gauteng Health Department spent R30.3 million on Cuban doctors last year, and still employs 14 Cuban doctors who earn between R78 000 and R91 000 a month,” said Bloom, who is DA’s Gauteng health spokesperson.
Bloom then asked Mokgethi to explain why the provincial government was “employing Cuban doctors when there are unemployed local doctors”.
Mokgethi responded by saying: “Their employment was because of a government-to-government agreement entered into by South Africa in 1996. Cuba as a country is known for having the best health outcomes and their experience in prevention and health promotion would assist in strengthening the district health system.”
Bloom also revealed that the 10 intern doctors at the Chris Hani-Baragwanath Academic Hospital were not paid, The Citizen reported.
“They do invaluable work in 12- hour shifts, but things are getting desperate as some of them are going hungry and don’t have money for transport. It’s no surprise, but there is something deeply fishy about this because we have unemployed local doctors and unfilled medical posts. There are vacant posts, why are we not filling them but we spending money on Cuban doctors?,” said Bloom as quoted by the report.
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