There’s no need for concern about any compromise of security in the national defence force regarding what Cuban military mechanics and technicians are seeing and working on.
This re-assurance comes from the senior civilian public representative in the Defence and Military Veterans Ministry, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. The call to not be worried was part of her response to a Parliamentary question posed by Kobus Marais, the Democratic Alliance (DA) parliamentarian tasked with keeping an opposition party eye on the doings of Mapisa-Nqakula’s ministry which includes the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), the State-owned defence and security acquisition agency Armscor and South Africa’s oldest building – the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town.
Mapisa-Nqakula told Marais Project Thusano, the joint Cuban/South African agreement authorising Cuban military personnel to be and work in South Africa, was not “being extended to SANDF operational matters”.
She assured Marais “only basic maintenance and utilisation at technical level information was exchanged with SANDF members to ensure proper servicing of equipment developed with the Cubans as part of skills transfer”.
Elaborating on what Cuban expertise means for particularly those involved with the maintenance and repair of military vehicles, Mapisa-Nqakula said it assisted in building internal capacity.
“The SANDF’s dependency on industry for maintenance and repair will be reduced,” the Minister said, adding “Cost of training will be drastically reduced, including improving shooting capability in simulation of different types of combat arenas reducing the need for physical travel of trainees and the concomitant costs”.
“Project Thusano,” according to the Ministerial response, “was analysed and compared with SANDF and best international techniques and proved to be the cheapest and most cost effective way of reducing maintenance and repair costs, as well as acquiring skills by imparting technical knowledge to SA Army artisans”.
It has, since October 2018, cost South African taxpayers R86 645 402 to have Cuban expertise refurbishing military vehicles, including Olifant Mk 1 tanks in storage.