Question NW2179 to the Minister of Water and Sanitation

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14 July 2015 - NW2179

Profile picture: Balindlela, Ms ZB

Balindlela, Ms ZB to ask the Minister of Water and Sanitation

Is her department currently involved in a work exchange and/or employment agreement with the Republic of Cuba; if so, (a) what number of Cuban nationals (i) are currently employed and (ii) are due to be employed by her department, (b) what specific work roles are envisaged for the Cuban nationals, (c) what are the specific skill sets of each of the Cuban nationals (i) currently employed and (ii) due to be employed, (d) what are the details of the process followed to ensure that the same skill set was or is not available in the country and amongst South African citizens and (e) what is the total cost of the (i) employment or (ii) prospective employment of such Cuban nationals?


Yes, my Department is currently involved in a work employment agreement, deriving from a bilateral agreement that was reached between the Cuban and the South African Government. This agreement is part of the portfolio of cooperative agreements between the two countries. The agreement was signed on 9 September 2013 and its objective is to foster a technical development on water issues between the two countries.

(a) A total of 35 Cuban Engineers are (i) currently contracted with my Department for a period of two years, with a possibility of an extension to three years. (ii) Only one agreement has been concluded

(b) The Cuban secondment programme is meant to assist the Department of Water and Sanitation in the following mutually agreed areas:

  • Hydraulic, Civil, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering in the functional areas of the National Water Resources Infrastructure (NWRI) Operations Unit of the Department,
  • The Geohydrological and Engineering Services in rural and other disadvantaged areas where such services are inadequate in areas of Regional Functions,
  • The operations and maintenance of bulk raw water supply infrastructure,
  • The capacity building through training and support of local staff,
  • Augmenting project management capacity.


(c) The majority of the current employed 35 Cuban Specialists are qualified in Hydraulic Engineering, a field which is not offered in South Africa, and it emerged that this qualification is a specialty branch of Civil Engineering which focuses only on water engineering. Their field of specialization is therefore of great value to the Department in the field of Operations and maintenance. The rest of the Specialists are qualified in the fields of Mechanical, Civil, Electrical and hydro geological Engineering, and they are also adding value to the different functions within my Department.

(d) My Department proceeds to recruit local specialist to fill permanent positions as it was the case with the 13 Electrical and Mechanical engineering posts recently advertised. The Learning Academy also proceeds with the facilitation of developing local engineering skills at entry level. The table below indicates the number of posts in the Engineering field that were advertised but not filled during the 2013/2014 financial year:



No of posts advertised per Region/ Branch

Reasons for not filling the posts

NWRI - Northern Operations


A very small number of applications were received per post, in some instances no applications were received per post.

The applicants did not meet the minimum criteria of the posts.

Applicants are only registered as Candidates and not Technicians or Professionals

Head-hunting for suitable candidates also did not yield any results, as individuals are requesting higher remuneration packages that cannot be offered by the Public Service.

NWRI - Southern Operations



Branch: NWRI - Head Office



Branch: Policy and Regulation



KZN Region



Free State Region



Eastern Cape Region



Gauteng Region



Limpopo Region



Mpumalanga Region



Northern Cape Region



Western Cape Region






(e)(i) The total cost of contracting is an all-inclusive package of R532 278 per Cuban Specialist per annum.


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