AfriForum today served court papers for an application for review to force the Minister and the Department of Tourism to ensure that the race of applicants must play no part in the support which the Department’s COVID-19 Tourism Relief Fund renders to small, micro- and medium-sized enterprises (SMME’s). This Department currently indicates that black economic empowerment (BEE) and economic transformation will be used as criterion for support.
This follows after AfriForum on 7 April 2020 placed Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, the Minister of Tourism, as well as the Department on terms regarding BEE and other requirements. According to Kallie Kriel, CEO of AfriForum, not the Minister or the Department reacted to AfriForum’s letter and as such AfriForum now has no other choice but to approach the courts.
In the court papers, AfriForum requests that the application be handled on an urgent basis and already be heard on 21 April 2020 seeing as the Department will now already decide on a weekly basis which tourism enterprises will be helped. This fund currently contains R200 million. AfriForum also included various case studies with the court papers of business enterprises that are being disadvantaged by these arbitrary requirements.
According to Kriel, it is disgraceful that the government has decided to misuse assistance to struggling enterprises to promote a race-based agenda even in a time where everyone in the country needs to stand together against the mutual enemy – COVID-19. Kriel pointed to the fact that the Department’s racial requirements amount to unfair discrimination and is therefore unconstitutional. “The expressed aim of the Department’s fund is to offer assistance to tourism enterprises that are being adversely affected by COVID-19. Seeing as everyone, notwithstanding their race, is being adversely affected by COVID-19, the Department cannot use Section 9(2) of the Constitution, which justifies correction of discrimination from the past, as justification for discriminating assistance against the consequences of COVID-19.”
AfriForum encourages all tourism enterprises to still apply for relief at www.tourism.gov.za/Pages/COVID19TOURISMRELIEFFUND.aspx. You can SMS the name of your enterprise to 45113 (R1) to provide AfriForum with your enterprise’s details so that we can implement legal action on your behalf should your application be rejected based on BEE requirements. You can also send an email with your enterprise’s details to firstname.lastname@example.org.