On Monday, the South African Government News agency released an article in which Minister of Water and Sanitation Lindiwe Sisulu “called on South Africans to welcome the Cuban engineers who have arrived in the country to assist government’s efforts to deliver water and other related services.”
“The budget that has been set aside will also cover accommodation, and goods and services. I want to refute claims that these engineers are in country to take jobs which could be offered to South Africans…that is not the case at all,” Sisulu said.
The engineers are supposed to be in South Africa for 3 years.
The government has faced serious backlash over the high expense of bringing Cuban engineers, especially while almost half the country is unemployed.
The union Solidarity has sent a legal letter to Minister Sisulu demanding that the Cuban engineering program be suspended, until it can be determined if the Cuban engineers meet all the legal requirements for them to work in South Africa.
The OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries ) fund released an article in 2019 describing some of the problems in Cuba’s water infrastructure, and mentions an OFID (OPEC Fund for International Development) loan to the country.
ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba discussed the issue on eNCA
Herman Mashaba discussed corruption and the many unemployed who could easily fill these roles.
DA Shadow Minister for Water and Sanitation, Leon Basson MP, made the following statement
“The DA calls on the Minister of Human Settlements, Water & Sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu, to reverse the appointment of 24 Cuban engineers to assist the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) to solve problems related to water infrastructure.
This comes after the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) has confirmed that international engineers working in South Africa are only allowed to carry out work if they apply for professional registration with ECSA.
Given that the jury is still out on whether the Cuban engineers meet the necessary legal requirements to work in South Africa, the Minister must do the right thing and send them home.
ECSA has 34 000 registered professionals, of which more than 14 800 are registered professional engineers. This confirms that South Africa has numerous skilled engineers who are able to the assist the DWS with its infrastructural challenges. Yet, the South African government chooses to pay millions of Rands in accommodating and paying Cuban engineers, at the expense of accredited, experienced and unemployed engineers already registered in South Africa.
Clearly Sisulu and her Department is out of touch with reality, and it is for this reason that the DA will also write to her to request the convening of a National Engineering Indaba.
South Africa’s deepening water infrastructure crisis requires leaders from government, business, labour and civil society to deliberate on a way forward to build capacity at both provincial and national level to address water challenges.
The DA believes that through meaningful public-private partnerships a solution can be found. And a National Engineering Indaba offers an opportunity to put outside our differences and work towards rebuilding our failing water infrastructure.”