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Steenhuisen on COVID-19 relief plans: This is no time for racial bean counting

DA interim leader John Steenhuisen said the only way the country would be able to keep its economy moving was by ensuring that all businesses who needed assistance during the lockdown period were prioritised.

FILE: DA interim leader John Steenhuisen. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

DURBAN - Democratic Alliance (DA) interim leader John Steenhuisen has on Tuesday criticised government for what he calls the application of racial criteria in determining eligibility for government relief for businesses affected by COVID-19.

Steenhuisen said Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane had informed a senior official in the Cape Town metro that BEE codes would be applied in administering the tourism relief fund.

Agriculture Minister Thoko Didiza also indicated on Monday that her department's relief fund would prioritise small-scale farmers mainly led by the youth, women and people with disabilities.

Steenhuisen has also criticised this move, saying it indicated commercial farmers would be excluded.

He called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to instruct ministers in his Cabinet to ensure that assistance to businesses negatively affected by the coronavirus outbreak was made available to all South Africans.

“This is not the time for petty political ideologies to prevail; coronavirus knows no race, class and no differentiation between businesses.”

Steenhuisen said prioritising race in relief programmes would negatively affect employees, the majority of whom were black, more than their employers.

“It, therefore, makes absolutely no sense whatsoever in this time of crisis for South Africa to be resorting to petty racial bean counting. We need to fight this virus together.”

He said the only way the country would be able to keep its economy moving was by ensuring that all businesses who needed assistance during the lockdown period were prioritised.

For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.