14ymedio, Madrid, 19 April 2022 — The donation of more than three million dollars to Cuba approved by the South African government in February will not be in money, but in medical and “humanitarian” material. This was stated by President Cyril Ramaphosa when asked by the leader of the South African opposition, John Steenhuisen, according to the local press on Monday.
Steenhuisen had asked Ramaphosa for an explanation for giving 50 million rands (3.25 million dollars) to the island, granted with the justification of guaranteeing its “food security” in the face of US sanctions.
“I am informed that humanitarian aid and health items, and not money, will be delivered to Cuba in response to a request for humanitarian assistance from Cuba,” the president replied in writing.
In his letter, Ramaphosa argued that, in the same spirit in which South Africa “has been and continues to be” a recipient of aid from other countries, his country “established a mechanism in the form of the African Renaissance Fund (ARF) to enable us to provide support to people in other countries when they need it.”
Last March, a court stopped a multi-million dollar donation at the request of the Afrikaner pressure group Afriforum. Since its approval, the aid has sparked controversy in the country, which, since the covid-19 pandemic, is not going through its best economic moment.
Diplomatic relations between South Africa and Cuba have been fruitful, especially for the Cuban side, which has received very important benefits in different sectors by virtue of the cooperation agreements between both countries.
The friendship dates back to the times of Nelson Mandela, but it remained the same with his successive presidents, Thabo Mbeki (1999-2008), Jacob Zuma (2008-2018) and the current president, Cyril Ramaphosa, all of them from the African National Congress party.
Cuba maintains export agreements for doctors and engineers with the country, and both sectors have revealed corruption problems, according to the opposition. The most controversial case, which occurred in 2021, was the purchase of interferon alfa-2b by the Ministry of Defense to treat covid-19, circumventing Health controls.
It was settled at the end of the year, when the South African Justice ordered the illegally acquired drug to be destroyed.
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