The Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein today ruled that the Department of Tourism’s implementation of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) as criteria for its aid fund is unlawful. Solidarity and AfriForum opposed the criteria of the Department in court. The verdict together with a cost order was delivered against the Department.
“We are delighted with the verdict. It is a victory for everyone in the tourism sector who has lost their revenue and businesses as a result of the government’s implementations of the Disaster Management Act, but also whom the government has rejected based on the colour of their skin. Solidarity and AfriForum was persistent, saying that the virus does not choose its victims based on the colour of their skin and that the government has no right to choose whom they will help based on this criteria. We simply could not allow this gross exploitation of people in need by the government,” says Anton van der Bijl, Head of Legal Matters at Solidarity.
According to judge Plasket, the Minister of Tourism committed an error of law and is not legally obliged, as she argued, to allocate funds based on BEE requirements. Judge Plasket’s ruling replaces the previous ruling, delivered on 6 April in favour of the Department. AfriForum and Solidarity appealed against the ruling and the case was heard electronically on 25 August.
The tourism sector has suffered with the government’s draconic lockdown measure and for government to then discriminate against people based on their race, just shows that the Department of Tourism needs to get its priorities in order.
“The court’s ruling makes it clear that the Minister made a mistake in her interpretation of the Act. It could also be that the Minister’s legal advisers are incompetent or that she knew exactly what she did and still chose to discriminate against people based on the colour of their skin, in contradiction to the relevant legislation,” says Jacques Broodryk, Campaign Manager at AfriForum.
“It is time for government officials to realise that they simply cannot just make and break as they please, and that the taxpayer’s money cannot be spent carelessly, or be used to finance the ANC’s ideology. Ministers and their respective departments are also subject to the laws of this country and will be held accountable if they do not comply. We will continue to act as a watchdog and will not hesitate to address these injustices,” Van der Bijl concludes.
Read the verdict here.