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Solidarity challenges procurement of Cuban specialists

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The trade union has filed court papers with the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria against Minister of Water and Sanitation Lindiwe Sisulu.

Minister of Water and Sanitation Lindiwe Sisulu. Picture: File

Pretoria – Trade union Solidarity has filed court papers with the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, against Minister of Water and Sanitation Lindiwe Sisulu over her decision to procure the services of Cuban scientists and engineers for the country.

The 25 engineers were said to have “expert knowledge” and able to assist with infrastructure maintenance in the country at services that would cost the taxpayers R18 million over three years.

The union is seeking a review application to have the department’s decision declared invalid by the court.

Court papers seen by the Pretoria News, stating Sisulu as the respondent, read in part: “The applicant intends to bring under review the decision of the minister (Sisulu) to procure the services of Cuban scientists, engineers and engineer assistants in the fields of water resource management and water supply.”

The union is challenging Sisulu’s decision, saying it was unlawful, illegitimate and constitutionally invalid because the decision was in breach of Section 217 of the Constitution.

Speaking to the Pretoria News yesterday, the union’s head of legal matters, Anton van der Bijl, accused the ANC-led ministry of trying to repay “old political debt”.

He said: “Solidarity argues that the decision to import Cuban engineers is unethical because the designated engineers will see only a small portion of the money, while most of the money will be paid over to the Cuban government.

“These Cuban workers are being exploited so that the government can repay ‘old political debt’ that had been incurred mainly by the ANC.

“South Africa cannot be held responsible for the ANC’s political debt. Nor can we look on while people are being exploited.

“It is irresponsible and irrational to pay out any money to fund imported labour while your own workforce is beleaguered by a pandemic and unemployment.

“We cannot allow tax money to be wasted in this way. We are continuing with our case, and we will continue to fight against the inefficiency and incompetence of the State.”

He said Sisulu was deliberately misleading the public, and deceitfully conspiring and sidestepping processes to be followed.

“With these actions, she undermines the law and fails to comply with the requirements set for her. We remind the minister that she has an obligation towards South Africa, and that she must fulfil her responsibilities.

“However, she does not want to comply, which leaves us with no alternative but to go to court.”

Efforts to contact ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe were fruitless. However, department spokesperson Sputnik Ratau confirmed on Tuesday the government’s intention to oppose the court papers.

“We are going to oppose the papers as we are already in the process of the legal team engaging with State attorneys to develop content of our court papers. The process has only just started and so we would not have a timeline as to when we will file the papers yet,” said Ratau.

Pretoria News