The 187 Cuban doctors who were deployed to SA to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic may have been forced to do so. An IOL report notes that this is according to the US Department of State, which made the allegation in its latest 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report for SA.
The report said that medical workers are only paid a fraction of their salaries while working in SA. “The Cuban government may have forced its citizens to work in SA, including at least 187 Cuban doctors and medical staff sent to all provinces to combat the pandemic,” the report said. “These agreements typically require payment directly to the government of Cuba, which gives the medical workers between 5% and 15% of the salary, only after they completed the mission and returned home,” the report added.
Government spokesperson Phumla Williams referred an IOL request for comment to the Department of International Relations & International Co-operation (Dirco). Clayson Monyela, the spokesperson for the Dirco, said he did not understand why the US would attach human trafficking to an issue that is purely a bilateral agreement between the government of Cuba and SA. SA’s reliance on Cuban workers in the medical and engineering fields has been criticised by opposition parties and labour organisations, which have accused the government of ignoring sufficiently skilled South Africans.
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