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Forget Cuba, feed hungry South Africans

A group of South African non-profit organizations is outraged by the decision by the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) to donate $50 million to fight hunger in Cuba.

A coalition of hunger relief organizations launched a petition on February 7 to protest the donation of R50 million. Nearly 15,000 people and more than 60 organizations have since joined the campaign, “to object to the travesty and irony of millions of rands leaving South Africa as more of our own people suffer the injustice of hunger every day.”

When comparing the hunger statistics between the two countries, the Global Hunger Index (GHI) notes that Cuba has consistently scored “low” (less than 5) since 2005.

A GHI score of less than five indicates that less than 10% of the population is hungry.

Hunger in Cuba has stabilized at 2.5% since 2002, while South Africa ranks 60th with a score of 12.9, indicating a “moderate level of hunger”.

According to, 52.31% of the South African population (30 896 447 out of 59 062 442) is food insecure. Meanwhile, 19.98% of Cuba (2 260 286 out of 11 311 641) faces food insecurity.

ALSO READ: SA’s R50m Cuba gift should never have been a priority, says economist

People who signed the petition said this:

“Our money, our taxes, must be used for our people!! What does Mrs. Pandora not understand???” – Garth Luxton, Cape Town.

“It’s a reality… Especially in the townships and rural areas. Hunger is a big problem. Most parents depend on the SASSA scholarship. Unemployment has not made it any easier. I seriously believe that our President Cyril Ramaphosa and his cabinet should visit townships to see how people live. Sort your house first before beautifying someone else’s house. Your house needs a lot of refurbishment.” – Roger Reece, Port Elizabeth.

“Giving our taxes to Cuba makes no sense.” – Bob Corbett, Cape Town.

“The donation of R50 million to Cuban hunger relief is a symptom of a bigger problem in South Africa. The government must prioritize tackling the root cause of hunger and take short, medium and long-term measures to end hunger. It is a seemingly impossible task, but through collaboration between government, civil society, entrepreneurs, academics and innovators it is possible to end hunger”, Chef Coo Pillay, Chefs with Compassion.

“The Angel Network is an NPO committed to the upliftment of the most vulnerable in our country. Over the past two years we have spent more than R25 million on food aid and fed hundreds of thousands in all nine provinces. We depended solely on private funding and donors and received no government assistance,” Glynne Wolman, The Angel Network.

Petition to be handed over to Dirco

The coalition, made up of more than 60 organizations, representing the 15,000+ signatories and thousands more hungry people, will petition to Dirco next Thursday, February 24.

The coalition wants Minister Naledi Pandor and Deputy Minister Alvin Botes to redirect the R50 million into an urgent, independent investigation into immediately actionable solutions to tackle the systemic causes of hunger at home.

It also wants President Cyril Ramaphosa to “treat hunger like the pandemic it is.”

compiled by Narissa Subramoney

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