By Kaya 959 News
The Department of Water and Sanitation has come under fire after it revealed that it has hired a delegation of Cuban engineers to help with the country’s water and infrastructure issues.
In a statement, the DWS revealed that the delegation of 24 will help to both enhance and improve the government’s efforts with water delivery services.
“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.
“Some of the engineers’ core responsibilities include the practical exploration of sustainable use of water resources, maintenance and management of water supply and sanitation infrastructure, and the strategic planning of those resources, particularly in rural and other disadvantaged communities,” the statement read.
AfriForum questions decision
However, there are those who believe the government has ignored the experts right here in SA.
Civil rights organisation AfriForum has penned a letter to Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu, questioning the appointment of the 24 Cuban engineers.
Afriforum Manager of Environmental Affairs, Lambert de Klerk, said these appointments are a huge waste of taxpayers’ money.
“South Africa has experienced, qualified engineers and specialists who are more than capable to assist the department. In the letter, we request that the engineers’ experience and qualifications be made known, that a report describing the water and infrastructure problems be made available, and that the department supply an action plan of where the engineers will be working,” de Klerk said.
He said the DWS spent approximately R12 million in 2017 appointing Cuban engineers, without ever publishing a report on the work that was done. AfriForum also requested in the letter that a comprehensive financial structure be made public on what these appointments will cost taxpayers.
“We also have a list of retired and employed engineers and specialists who are more than willing to assist the government,” he said.
R177bn unfunded infrastructure backlog
ActionSA President, Herman Mashaba, has also slammed the appointment saying that the import is 100% about the ANC scratching the back of a country that it has historical links with.
“Cuba itself is a disaster, a country 40-50 years behind South Africa where very little works, much less the infrastructure. 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 said.
He added that the government failed to maintain, repair and renew the infrastructure in SA.
He said when he was mayor in 2016, there was a R177 billion unfunded infrastructure backlog.
“South Africa has some of the best engineers in the world who graduate from South African funded universities. Many, as a result of economic mismanagement and the impact of the lockdown, are sitting at home unemployed. To import Cuban engineers who qualified from lower standard universities than our own world-class engineers is criminal,” Mashaba said.
The government was also heavily criticised when it hired the Cuban medical brigade to help local doctors in the fight against Covid.