Saturday, 15 June, 2024
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Head scratching over donation of SA medical supplies to Cuba

At a pivotal juncture in the country’s fight against the COVID-19 coronavirus, when the rate of infections is almost at a peak and healthcare workers’ cries for adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) are falling on deaf ears, City Press reports it has emerged that South Africa made generous donations of “medical material supplies” worth tens of millions of rands to the Cuban government.

The ANC-led government, whose response to the pandemic has been hampered by rampant allegations of mass looting of COVID-19 relief funds, has been publicly thanked by the Caribbean island country for making not one but two donations of medical materials and food supplies.

What remains unclear is who made such a sizable donation during such a time when South Africa is borrowing funds from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and other lenders to adequately respond to the fight against the pandemic.

City Press reports that while the Cuban authorities have been vocal in their thanking of “the South African government”, the handing over of the consignment was overseen by ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, a contradiction if the donation was made by the government.

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe could not confirm who made the donation. He is quoted in the report as saying “it would be amiss if the donation was made by the government and yet handed over by the SG (Magashule). It could be that the donation was facilitated by the SG, hence the reason why he presented it to our counterparts.

“There is nothing wrong with Magashule handing over donations on behalf of the organisation (the ANC). There would be a problem if the donation was made by government since our people would ask how it is that gorvenment is making donations when our own response to the virus needs assistance,” said Mabe.

Government spokesperson, Phumla William, said: “Please check with the department of health if it is government, but if it’s the ANC I would know.” The report says the Health Department’s media liaison officer, Popo Maja, had not responded by the time of publishing.

City Press reports that a source with intimate knowledge of the matter gave a more comprehensive idea of the contents of the donations, saying that they “included bed covers, blankets, injection packs, infrared thermometers and protective clothing, particularly surgical gloves and masks”. The donations also included food parcels.

 

[link url="https://www.news24.com/citypress/news/the-curious-case-of-sas-donations-worth-millions-to-cuba-20200803"]Full News24 report[/link]

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