The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) has suffered another defeat in the courts over its controversial R50 million donation to Cuba.
In an order published on Tuesday, the Constitutional Court dismissed Dirco’s application for direct access to appeal the order by the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, which interdicted the government and the African Renaissance and International Cooperation Fund (ARF) from proceeding with humanitarian assistance to Cuba through the fund.
Dirco applied for direct access to the Constitutional Court to appeal against the order while simultaneously petitioning the Supreme Court of Appeal for direct access.
According to Dirco spokesperson Clayson Monyela, the decision of the latter is still awaited.
In a statement, Monyela said the legal proceedings in the review application against the decision to provide humanitarian assistance is continuing in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.
“In its order, the Constitutional Court did not pronounce itself on the merits of the case, as it was dealing with the application for direct access, which is a procedural matter. The Constitutional Court made it clear in its order that it will not hear the matter at this stage of the process, with the result that the matter should first be ventilated and heard in a different court,” he said.
Previously, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor said Cuba faced chronic food, fuel, medicine and electricity shortages.
Even President Cyril Ramaphosa said health items, and not money, would be donated to Cuba.
ARF, which is located within the Department of International Relations and Cooperation and legally constituted to implement humanitarian assistance of this nature, is coordinating the project.
Meanwhile, Monyela said any suggestion that the order given by the Constitutional Court is a “victory” in the case is erroneous.
“The substantive matters relating to the review are still to be addressed in the high court process, which is currently ongoing, and all legal routes remain available to the government, including to appeal the matter in the Constitutional Court once the legal proceedings have taken their course,” he said.