The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure employed 24 Cuban nationals at a cost of R1,125,725 each.
Public Works Minister Patricia De Lille said the dearth of the relevant skills available in South Africa forced them to import these highly specialized skills from Cuba.
The list of specialized skills includes engineering, construction project management, and facilities management.
The DA’s shadow minister of Public Works, Samantha Graham, disputed that these skills do not exist in South Africa.
Graham said one of the entities under De Lille’s department is the Council for the Built Environment (CBE).
The CBE oversees the activities of 5 councils which include:
- The Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) with 55,000 registered members.
- The South African Council for Architectural Professionals (SACAP) with 11,000 members.
- The South African Council for Project and Construction Management Professionals (SACPCMP) with 11,000 members.
“It is inconceivable that the Department of Public Works was unable to locate 24 professionals from more than 77,000 registered members within its entities to provide technical advice,” Graham said.
“It is abhorrent that South Africa is importing people to work during the worst unemployment crisis our democratic dispensation has faced.”
De Lille has indicated that the current contracts expire in November 2021 and that her department has no intention of appointing more Cuban technical advisors in the short term.
“While this may appear an admirable sentiment, she has been aware of these technical advisors since assuming office in 2019 and has failed to address the matter,” Graham said.
“Her department has been employing these advisors for ten years already, and Minister De Lille has been silent on the issue.”
Graham said she would be writing to De Lille to request a detailed breakdown of exactly which projects are using these technical advisors and the skills required of each position.