Solidarity wants Lindiwe Sisulu to suspend Cuban engineer programme to fix water infrastructure

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Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu
Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu
PHOTO: File, Rapport
  • Solidarity is threatening to apply for an interdict to stop the government from hiring Cuban engineers for water systems maintenance and repairs.
  • The union sent a legal letter to Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to ask that the programme be suspended.
  • It compiled a list of 132 local engineers and skills specialists, which it believes can do the job instead.

Trade union Solidarity has asked Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to suspend the hiring of Cuban engineers for the repair of South Africa's creaking water infrastructure.

And if the minister doesn't press the pause button, it intends to head to court with an application to have the programme interdicted.

The union sent Sisulu a legal letter in which it said that South Africa had 132 local engineers and specialist artisans who could do the same job.

In a statement, the union said:

The minister has until Friday, 30 April, to answer, and then the content of the answer will determine whether Solidarity will bring an application for an interdict against the minister.

Last week, Sisulu announced that 24 engineers would help with water infrastructure and maintenance "from source to tap" and that around R65 million had been budgeted for this financial year.

READ | Cuban engineers can't work

Most were seconded to water and river "clusters" to provide training and help local engineers and artisans with infrastructure problems. They will receive stipends and payment for goods and services.

But the announcement was not well received in many quarters where some have argued that local engineers and artisans need the work.

Cuba and the ANC-led South African government have been in solidarity for decades, with Cuba supporting African liberation movements. The government regards Cuba as "the backbone" of the liberation struggle.

Solidarity noted that the Engineering Council of SA raised questions over whether the engineers had the required credentials required to work in South Africa.

The department could not immediately confirm receipt of Solidarity's letter on Monday morning, but spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said the engineers had been in South Africa since last year.

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