South Africa has signed an agreement to provide Cuba with R350
million in economic assistance, Trade and Industry Minister Rob
Davies said on Friday.
“The signing ceremony today concludes the process of amending
the agreement and the package is now available for potential
exporters to take advantage of,” he said in a statement.
President Jacob Zuma made the offer to Cuba during his state visit
in December 2010, Davies said. The agreement was originally signed
in February 2012, but the implementation was delayed and
amendments needed to be made.
The money would be used for agricultural development and
reconstruction of infrastructure following hurricane damage in 2008.
“Further, it is envisaged that the package will stimulate bilateral
trade relations between South Africa and Cuba.”
The agreement included a R40m grant to purchase seeds from
South Africa and elsewhere in the world, a R100m solidarity grant to
purchase goods from South Africa, and a R210m credit line.
The Democratic Alliance criticised the agreement.
“This R350m giveaway to Cuba is a misuse of public money… We
condemn this handout in the strongest terms,” MP Geordin Hill-
Lewis said in a statement.
“The cash crunch in South Africa’s budget is well known. We cannot
afford to hand out money to Cuba for no other purpose than to
maintain the political ties.”
There was no value in the deal for South Africa, he said.
“We should not be strengthening our ties with governments that do
not respect basic constitutional and democratic principles.
“It is a tragic irony that South Africa is helping to fund a regime that
denies its citizens the same democratic freedoms that were so hard won in our own country.”