The Ministry and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) said on Wednesday it is studying the North Gauteng High Court interim ruling, which blocked it from providing humanitarian aid to Cuba.
The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria had on Tuesday, granted AfriForum an urgent interim application to interdict Dirco from making a R50 million donation to Cuba.
“This is an interim order. We are studying the judgment and consulting our lawyers to prepare heads of arguments. We will return to court in 20 days.” said Dirco Minister, Dr. Naledi Pando.
“We want to clarify the African Renaissance Fund does not give money to anyone. We offer humanitarian aid, whether food, medical supplies, or other assistance. Dirco budgets the money and not any other department,” D.r Pando said.
Judge J. Neukircher ruled that until the outcome of the AfriForum application is reviewed and set aside, the donation to the Cuban government is deemed illegal and unconstitutional.
The court has also slapped the parties [respondents] involved in the matter with an interdict, preventing them from proceeding with R50 million donating to Cuba.
According to Neukircher, AfriForum serves the interests of a broader community and should not bear an out-of-pocket expense.
In addition to granting the interdict, the court ordered the respondents to pay the costs of the application.
Judge Neukircher indicated the second part will involve submitting a review application to overturn the decision to donate the funds to Cuba.
The R50 million donation has sparked controversy in South Africa, with critics saying the government has diverted resources away from domestic challenges.
Critics argue that South Africa has higher unemployment, poor infrastructure, inadequate government services, worse poverty than Cuba.
In a recent reply to a parliamentary question, Dr. Pandor said South Africa responded to humanitarian aid based on trust and friendship.
She said the friendship and sacrifices with Cuba dated back during the struggle for independence.
Cuba has also responded quickly to South Africa’s request for medical attention during the first months of the COVID-19 epidemic.
Dr.Pando said the African Renaissance and International Cooperation Fund (ARF), part of DIRCO, is legally involved in implementing humanitarian assistance of this nature.
She said ARF coordinated the project with the stakeholders, following the required legislation.
“Finance Minister has approved the release of R 50 million from the African Renaissance Fund.
Dirco Director-General then commissioned Cuban humanitarian aid through the supply chain management process defined in the Public Finance Management Act. (Act No. 1 of 1999), “added Dr Pando.
The Director of Foreign Affairs is responsible for new funding.
According to the Act, an advisory committee offer recommendations to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Finance to allocate funds.
The Committee is composed of the Director-General of Foreign Affairs, three members elected by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and two members elected by the Minister of Finance.