On Thursday, April 22, Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister of Water and Sanitation, proudly welcomed the 24 Cuban engineers designated to use their water and sanitation skills that she claimed South African engineers don’t have.
Sisulu’s argument was that the Cuban engineers have “overcome challenges, have the experience and know how to do it better.”
However, many members of opposition parties and the public alike, were skeptical about South African engineers not having those skills, particularly ActionSA president Herman Mashaba.
“The work being done by the Cubans is nothing that could not have been done by South African engineers,” Mashaba said according to BusinessTech.
Sisulu herself, failed to elaborate on what exactly the skills were that our engineers lack which is why it has become a point of speculation.
Additionally, Mashaba raised the point that “Our engineers are sought after all over the world because of their experience and the quality of our engineering qualifications.”
He also took to Twitter to voice his frustration.
Minister Sisulu says the South African can’t find suitable Engineers, and that Cubans Engineers are disciplined.
What an insult to our world respected South African Engineering Industry!@Newzroom405 pic.twitter.com/JGewt9IKo3
— Herman Mashaba (@HermanMashaba) April 23, 2021
The whole situation draws parallels toward the Cuban doctors who were imported last year. From the perspective of a South African engineer who spoke to Cape Town Etc, the situation is insulting. “Now I know how insulted the doctors must have been last year. The government [is] basically saying our guys aren’t good enough for some reason when we all know it’s not true,” the Cape Town engineer said.
Thus, the question has been raised as to why we are sourcing skills, within a budget of R64 652 000 as reported to News 24, when there are a myriad of unemployed and highly qualified engineers at home.
The project will have the Cuban engineers working in rural areas on stipends for a period of three years. They will be cooperating in realms of strategic planning, assessment, assistance, evaluation and research in lieu of hydraulic infrastructure and overall water resources in those rural areas according to Sisulu.
Perhaps the question now lies in what else the Cuban workers are going to take the reigns on, and which South Africans are going to be next in replacement?