Cuba debt write-off a dubious decision: DA

2010-12-08 21:41

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Cape Town - The government's decision to write off R1.1bn of debt owed by Cuba raised questions about the priorities and objectives of the Zuma administration, the DA said on Wednesday.

The gesture was however applauded by the National Union of Mineworkers of South Africa (Numsa).

Democratic Alliance foreign affairs spokesperson Kenneth Mubu said: "One has to wonder what the Zuma administration wishes to achieve by buying better relations with Cuba."

It was not clear what South Africa could gain by seeking to improve trade with the Caribbean island state "as it is well documented that Cuba possesses a failing economy" and lacked the capacity to become a big importer.

South Africa's total export volume to Cuba so far this year came to R1bn.

Mubu said Pretoria was not promoting a sensible foreign policy either by building ties with one of the world's last remaining socialist states.

"We are also not supporting our ostensibly principled foreign policy objectives by supporting a regime that relies on nepotistic promotion for national leadership instead of open and democratic participation."

South Africa in 2008 wrote off R900m of debt owed by Cuba.

On Tuesday, President Jacob Zuma announced at the end of a two-day state visit to Cuba that the government was writing off R1.1bn in debt, and giving it guarantees and aid worth a few hundred million rand.

This includes a R40m donation to help Cuba buy seeds and fertiliser following a hurricane in 2008, R70m in credit guarantees and R100m from the African Renaissance Fund for purchases of South African goods.

Numsa called Zuma's announcement "a revolutionary gesture" and said it would revive relations borne out of Cuba's support for the South African liberation struggle.

"This gesture should serve as a basis for renewing our fraternal relations with Cuba, which was borne out of a concrete struggle for freedom and liberation of the oppressed people of our country and the southern African region."
- SAPA
Read more on:    da  |  jacob zuma  |  cuba
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