Cuban mechanics now also working on refurbishing combat vehicles
The use of Cuban mechanics to refurbish particularly Samil trucks in Project Thusano has apparently been extended to include the Ratel infantry combat vehicle. This is attributed to the May meeting of Parliament’s standing committee on defence as reported by the Parliamentary Monitoring Group (PMG). Secretary for Defence, Dr Sam Gulube, told the committee that the involvement of foreign, specifically Cuban, mechanics in the maintenance of SA Army vehicles should not be seen as a contradiction to the National Development Plan (NDP). Gulube, according to PMG, clarified the issue of Cubans in the vehicle maintenance project by saying they were there to train the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to do the maintenance themselves. He said soldiers should be able to fix vehicles themselves when they are in field and this would also apply to the air force and the marine force (presumably the SA Navy’s Maritime Reaction Squadron). “With the help of a contract signed with Cuban technicians, 140 army vehicles such as Ratels and others that had been lying unused were refurbished in the last three months, to be now combat ready and available for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Standby Force and the African Standby Force (ASF). This would in the long run save money.