According to Mergan Chetty, DA Shadow Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, during last week’s ‘Questions to the Ministers’ session in Parliament, when asked about South Africa’s questionable R50 million donation to Cuba, Deputy Minister of International Relations, Candith Mashego-Dlamini, stated that no such donation had taken place.

This happened despite International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor defending the decision to donate this money to Cuba, stating that Cuba is suffering a shortage of food, electricity, medicine and fuel. The donation was originally said to be for the purpose of “alleviating food security problems”, blamed on USA-imposed sanctions.

Civil rights organisation AfriForum released a statement saying it will be in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on 15 March 2022, in order to obtain an urgent court order which will prevent government making the planned R50 million donation to Cuba. AfriForum also states it will later submit a review application to the court in which the organisation will request that the decision to donate the money to Cuba be reversed. This will be based on the fact that there was no parliamentary overview of the donation, as is stipulated necessary by the African Renaissance and International Cooperation Fund (ARF) on which basis the donation is made, and that the donation is also in breach of the Public Financial Management Act because it was not properly approved by National Treasury or the Minister of Finance. 

DA Shadow Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Mergan Chetty, made the following statement today

During last week’s Questions to the Ministers session in Parliament, and in reply to a follow-up question that I had posed to Deputy Minister of International Relations, Candith Mashego-Dlamini, regarding South Africa’s R50 million “donation” to Cuba, Deputy Minister Mashego-Dlamini seemed lost at sea, as she fumbled through an incoherent response stating that such a “donation” did not take place.

Subsequently at Wednesday’s International Relations Portfolio Committee, it was confirmed during the confirmation of the previous meeting minutes, that during deliberations, in reference to Deputy Minister Alvin Botes’ comments, that it was indeed “a donation, and there is no ambiguity”.

Clearly this wasn’t communicated to Deputy Minister Mashego-Dlamini.

The Portfolio Committee Chair has committed to write to Deputy Minister Mashego-Dlamini, who conveniently was absent during Tuesday’s meeting to respond to her contradicting statement.

This isn’t the first time that contradicting or misleading statements have been made by DIRCO’s leadership. Just two weeks ago we had the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), under the leadership of Minister Naledi Pandor, issuing a statement, calling on Russia to immediately withdraw its forces from Ukraine. Yet, immediately thereafter, a statement was released from the Presidency contradicting this statement, rather requesting a fence-sitting approach of quiet diplomacy and peaceful discussion.

Yet again we have DIRCO caught up in miscommunications, and contradictions. Surely, with the outbreak of a war, we can ill afford such indecisiveness by key role players representing South Africa on an international stage.

The DA will be writing to the ethics committee to request Deputy Minister Dlamini to appear before them and explain why she misled Parliament.

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