Trade union Solidarity says it will serve court papers on Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to force the disclosure of information and stop the deployment of Cuban engineers to the country, pending an application for a review of the government’s decision.
This follows after the Minister did not meet the deadline to submit a proposal to defuse the dispute between Solidarity and the government regarding the deployment of 24 Cuban engineers.
“We are disappointed in the Minister. The government came with a request to come up with a proposal and twice we have postponed the deadline for such a proposal.
"Apart from the fact that the government did not meet the deadline, the Minister also did not respond to critical/key legal questions posed by Solidarity. Important information is still being withheld from the public. It should not be that difficult to obtain information about the use of tax money,” says Solidarity CE Dr Dirk Hermann.
Solidarity opens its legal action by starting a process dealing with the disclosure of information. “We need to break the secrecy surrounding the arrival of the Cubans, what they are supposed to do, how the money would be spent and whether the Cuban engineers are registered,” Hermann notes.
Solidarity has also brought an application for the deployment of the Cuban engineers to be stopped pending the review application that will ensue.
In the review application, Solidarity will seek to have the government’s decision to import Cubans declared invalid.
Solidarity’s application is based on two submissions. In the first place it is argued that the decision to import Cubans while South African skills are available is not rational.
Solidarity will also argue that it would be unlawful for Cubans to undertake and sign off on professional engineering projects as they do not comply with the South African registration and accreditation requirements.
“If the Cubans are here merely to fulfil a mentorship role, and are paid R64-million for it, it would be the most expensive mentorship programme in South Africa’s history.
"If they are not registered with the Engineering Council of South Africa, it also means that they would have to work under the supervision of South African engineers and would only be able to do basic work.
"All of this will contribute to the totally illogical decision to import the Cubans,” Hermann states.
Despite proceeding with legal action, Solidarity indicates that it is still open to further talks with the government.