Trade union Solidarity has opted to remove its court case against the Department of Water and Sanitation, over the employment of Cuban engineers in South Africa, from the urgent roll. The saga has angered many and Minister Lindiwe Sisulu had long maintained that the engineers’ input was minimal and that there’d be a transfer of skills for their local counterparts.

The union had approached the High Court in Pretoria, seeking to interdict government’s decision to bring the 24 engineers, which the department said it would defend. As part of their case, Solidarity had proposed a list of 132 local engineers who said they could do the work.

However, the trade union’s Morné Malan said the court bid, which was set to be heard on Tuesday, 1 June 2021, had already served its purpose, hence they reached an agreement with the Water and Sanitation Department.

“We agreed with the department to have the case removed from the urgent roll for now. We actually feel that the case has to a large extent already accomplished its purpose. The goal for the case was to interdict the process so that we can obtain information and eventually prepare an application for review,” Malan said.

Sisulu welcomes Solidarity’s decision in Cuban Engineers saga

Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and the Department of Water and Sanitation have welcomed Solidarity’s decision. Sisulu said it was a step in the right direction and that it hoped the withdrawal will allos further congenial interaction, to find common ground with all affected parties.

“This move also encourages the department and its stakeholders to continue with engagements for the good of the sector and the country. It is worth underscoring once again, that the Cuban engineers are not in the country for permanent employment but to capacitate, impart knowledge and skills mainly to the rural municipalities which often have challenges with water infrastructure maintenance,” said ministry spokesperson Steve Motale.

The Cuban engineers have been deployed for a period of three years, during which they will receive a monthly stipend. Sisulu has faced much criticism, particularly given the R65 million price tag which comes with the deployment.

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Presh JM Reporter

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