Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu, came under fire this week after her department announced that 24 Cuban engineers have been imported to work on South Africa’s water system.
The engineers arrived in the country on Thursday.
Speaking at the welcoming ceremony, Sisulu noted that the Cuban engineers were imported to transfer skills and knowledge around water and sanitation. Skills, she said, that South African engineers do not have.
“Water is a ticking time bomb for this country. You come at a time when we sorely need you. You come at a time when we would like to give our people hope”, she said.
However, despite the Minister’s intention to give hope, many South Africans took to social media to express their disapproval of the department’s decision.
Mama @LindiweSisuluSA as a very capable and highly qualified Engineer who has been self employed since 2015, I am very disappointed with this move of Cuban engineers, infact I feel disrespected as a professional, Engineering Council of SA is not helping us in this matter too.
— Mr. Moholo (@chrizzymoh) April 23, 2021
R1. 5 miillion each. Meanwhile local black and white engineers remain unemployed.
— Peter Mansfield (@Peterman43) April 21, 2021
During her Q&A the Minister was asked about choosing Cuban engineers over South African engineers, to which she answered that though local engineers may be able to do the work, the Cubans are here to mentor and transfer skills. She said South Africans will need to be employed on the various projects and that the Cubans will be mainly working in rural areas and living on a stipend.
Sisulu said, “If there had been a group of engineers who said they would live on a stipend and in the rural area, we would have taken that offer.”
Their reasoning for using Cuban engineers just doesn't add up!
On one hand Sisulu says that SA engineers aren't good enough and on the other, she says that SA engineers don't want to earn a stipend and/or work in the rural areas.
Can they show proof that SA engineers said that?
— Hafidah Chiave (@ChiaveHafidah) April 23, 2021
According to reports, R65 million will be spent on the engineers and each specialist will receive R2.5 million per annum.
The Department of Water and Sanitation says R65-million will be spent to bring 24 Cuban engineers to South Africa to help with water problems in the country. The Department's Spokesperson, Sputnik Ratau says each specialist will be paid R2.5 million a year #sabcnews
— SAfm news (@SAfmnews) April 22, 2021
Sisulu added that Cuba had faced similar challenges with their water and sanitation which they overcame. She said they have acquired skills and worked in challenging conditions, all of which South Africa will take advantage of.