Project Thusano will be reviewed – Minister Modise

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It appears Cuban expertise will again be utilised by the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) at some time in the future.

This inference is drawn from the response by Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise to a parliamentary question asked by Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) representative, Russel Cebekhulu.

She informed him in writing the current contracts for Cuban military technical assistance across the SANDF will “conclude in January 2025”.

“I have given instruction to review Project Thusano. A decision will then be taken on the various sub-contracts, which ones to terminate and which to continue with. The terms of the contract are definitely going to be reviews to the best interest of both parties,” the ministerial reply to Cebekhulu reads.

He wanted Modise “in the light of reports that Thusano will be expanded to include maritime services” to provide some detail. The IFP public representative further asked for “relevant details” on the total amount the inclusion of Cuban provided maritime services will cost, which was not part of the ministerial response.

In December defenceWeb reported immediate past SA Navy (SAN) Chief Mosiwa Hlongwane saying utilisation of Cuban repair teams for naval equipment and in the Armscor managed dockyard infrastructure would be expanded.

He told the December SAN change of command parade: “As regards Project Thusano, we intend to expand utilisation of the Cuban repair team to areas such as fleet maintenance for ships’ equipment, maintenance and repairs and to the Armscor dockyard for repairs on synchro lift, mobile cranes, pumps, power generating equipment, small boat propulsion systems and general mechanical as well as electrical maintenance”.

The Project Thusano agreement between South Africa and Cuba was signed in 2012 for Cuban military technicians to maintain and repair military prime mission equipment (PME) in South Africa, mainly vehicles. This was subsequently expanded to include driving simulators, maintenance and repair of aviation equipment and armaments for the SA Air Force (SAAF), medical equipment for the SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) and provision of training and senior staff courses for South African military students in Cuba.

The initial five year agreement was extended to January 2025. Total spend on Project Thusano for its duration is estimated to be more than R2.665 billion.