While the dust is yet to settle after heavy criticism of Department of Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s move to hire Cuban engineers at a cost of R65 million, it has emerged the Department of Defence has spent more than R1 billion on the services of Cuban service providers.
This was revealed by DA shadow minister of defence Kobus Marais, who said the information was acquired through a written reply to a DA parliamentary question.
Marais says the government has been outsourcing defence contracts to Cuban companies to maintain and repair its defence equipment under Project Thusano at a cost of more than R1 billion in the past 10 years.
Attempts to get hold of the department proved unsuccessful.
The party said it would be submitting follow-up questions to ascertain whether there are any steps that the department is taking to ensure that most of its Prime Mission Defence Equipment repair and maintenance budget is spent locally.
“Over the years, our men and women in uniform have watched the force’s operational capabilities decline due to relentless budget cuts,” Marais said.
“Meanwhile, allocations to defence contractors have remained steady or even increased, confirming that the ANC government will rather subsidise its Cuban friends than build our defence capabilities.”
Marais said that the R1 billion spent on Cuban service providers is just one of many instances in which the government has splurged scarce taxpayer money on services that can be procured locally.