Last month, the civil rights organisations asked the Department of International Relations and Co-operation to explain and give reasons for the donation and where the money would come from.
By Betty Moleya
PRETORIA – AfriForum has applied for an urgent interdict to prevent the government from granting Cuba a R50 million donation to alleviate food security problems in that country brought about by sanctions imposed by the US.
Last month, the civil rights organisation asked the Department of International Relations and Co-operation to explain and give reasons for the donation and where the money would come from.
Reiner Duvenage of AfriForum said it was outrageous, given South Africa’s current socio-economic conditions, for the country to donate such a huge amount to another country. “In fact, it is an absolute insult to the citizens of this country.”
The department responded to the letter, but AfriForum was not satisfied with the response and will therefore proceed with legal action.
“The decision was made without any parliamentary review or complying with the Public Finance Management Act,” Duvenage said.
In the letter, the department said the allocation of the amount was for the purpose of humanitarian assistance and not to discharge any debt.
“The allocation was made for humanitarian assistance to Cuba, after a request by Cuba in this regard due to the dire economic situation in which Cuba finds itself at present, resulting in a shortage of food, medicine and essential goods, and in view of South Africa’s historic friendship and solidarity with Cuba,” the department said.
The letter also stated that the funds would be disbursed from the African Renaissance Fund, established in terms of the African Renaissance and International Co-operation Fund Act.
AfriForum is not the only organisation against the donation. More than 60 NPOs have come together to form the Hunger Coalition in a bid to halt the donation.
Last Thursday, the coalition delivered a petition to the department demanding a response within seven days.
The petition was directed to President Cyril Ramaphosa, the Department of International Relations and Co-operation and the Department of Social Development.
In it, the organisations demanded that the R50m donation to Cuba be halted and reallocated towards an urgent, independent investigation into immediately actionable solutions to address the systemic causes of hunger.
“To President Cyril Ramaphosa, treat hunger as the pandemic it is. Attack the problem at the root by funding an independent commission of action-orientated experts who have the research-based insights into the problems and can work towards implementing solutions to address the hunger pandemic. Your statement in your State of the Nation address indicates your intention to do so – now take action.
“To the Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu, rise to the call of thousands of South Africans who have signed the petition, and the hundreds of thousands of voiceless hungry people across the country – and take action.
“Champion the cause of the voiceless and leave a legacy of ensuring that children are not stunted and malnourished, instead of leaving behind the legacy of childhood malnutrition that will be felt in generations to come.”
The coalition said it remained hopeful that it would receive a positive response from the government.
“International Relations acknowledged our e-mail that was sent after the handover of the petition, and we do expect a response from them.”
The deadline, of seven days, is Thursday, March 3.