The government’s decision to write off R1.1 billion of debt owed by Cuba raised questions about the priorities and objectives of the Zuma administration, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said today.
“One has to wonder what the Zuma administration wishes to achieve by buying better relations with Cuba,” DA foreign affairs spokesperson Kenneth Mubu said.
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 R1 billion.
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 R900 million of debt owed by Cuba.
Yesterday, President Jacob Zuma announced at the end of a two-day state visit to Cuba that the government was writing off R1.1 billion in debt, and giving it guarantees and aid worth a few hundred million rand.
This includes a R40 million donation to help Cuba buy seeds and fertiliser following a hurricane in 2008, R70 million in credit guarantees and R100 million from the African Renaissance Fund for purchases of South African goods.