The Department of Water and Sanitation intends to import Cuban engineers with expertise in water to “share experience and impart technical skills” to South African engineers. The Department said 24 Cubans have been seconded to South Africa, with the aim of improving government’s water service delivery and related services, in a statement on Monday, 19 April 2021.
‘HIGHLY QUALIFIED’ CUBAN ENGINEERS TO BOOST SOUTH AFRICA’S WATER EXPERTISE
“The highly qualified Cuban specialists will assist as advisors at provincial and local levels across the country, sharing their vast skills in the areas of mechanical, electrical and civil engineering, as well as project management,” said the Department.
The Cuban engineers will be tasked with exploring practical sustainable use of water resources, the maintenance and management of water supply and sanitation infrastructure and the strategic planning around those resources, especially in rural and poorer communities. According to the department, these will be their core responsibilities.
The engineering contingent will be welcomed at ceremony held in Pretoria East on Thursday, 22 April.
ANC MUST PAY FOR ENGINEERS THEN SEND THEM HOME, SAYS MASHABA
Herman Mashaba, the leader of the ActionSA political party and staunch nationalist, decried the government’s announcement in a scathing statement. He accused the government of adding insult to injury, referencing the money spent to bring Cuban doctors into the country to help fight COVID-19.
“Like the import of Cuban doctors, the import of Cuban engineers is 100% about the ANC scratching the back of a country that it has historical links with,” said Mashaba.
“If the ANC wants to assist the Cuban government, it should do so itself and not waste another cent of South African public money on its vanity projects,” he added.
Mashaba also said that South Africa is home to world-class engineers that are unemployed because of economic mismanagement and the COVID-19 lockdown. In light of this, he called the decision to import Cuban engineers “criminal.”
“The South African government must end its ridiculous pattern of assisting nations around the world when it is failing in the most fundamental manner, the South African people,” concluded Mashaba.
THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME CUBAN ENGINEERS WERE IMPORTED TO SHARE THEIR EXPERTISE
In 2015, a different group of Cuban engineers were deployed in South Africa as part of a bilateral agreement between the Water Department and the Institute of Cuban National Resources.
Of the 35 engineers deployed across the country, twenty returned to Cuba in June 2018 at the end of their contracts, while the remaining 15 returned in March 2019.
During their send-off ceremony, Water and Sanitation Deputy Minister Pam Tshwete said, “What you’ve done for the country is not different from what you did in Angola. You were always there in the hour of need.”
She added that Cubans joined South African’s to “fight in defence of democracy” despite not being obliged to.
“It feels like we are South Africans now,” said one of the departing Cuban engineer’s Eduardo Loriga.
“South Africa is our second home. We will continue to retain our relations with this country and its beautiful people.”