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AfriForum, Solidarity file appeal papers over COVID-19 tourism relief funds

AfriForum’s CEO Kallie Kriel on Thursday said their application for leave to appeal was the beginning of a legal process that AfriForum was prepared to ultimately take to the Constitutional Court and even challenge it internationally.

FILE: Minister of Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane at an inter-ministerial briefing on 24 March 2020 detailing how the government will respond ahead of and during the 21-day lockdown announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG – Lobby group AfriFroum and trade union Solidarity on Thursday filed their leave to appeal applications at the Pretoria High Court in their case against the Department of Tourism over its application of Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) codes of good practice as criteria for the distribution of relief funds to businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

This followed the dismissal of their case by the High Court in April.

The High Court had ruled that the department’s stance to have BBBEE as a requirement to allocate money to distressed businesses through its R200 million fund was justified and did not perpetuate unfair advantage by black companies as argued by both parties.

Earlier this month, Solidarity had approached the Constitutional Court on an urgent basis, but the court dismissed the trade union’s application without hearing the merits of the case.

In its order, the court said it was not in the interest of justice to hear the application urgently.

Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane welcomed the ruling by the Constitutional Court and urged AfriForum and Solidarity to allow the department to continue with its work.

At the time, the minister said that over 13,000 applications were received and that the processing of payments had already started to both black and white business owners.

Now, AfriForum’s CEO Kallie Kriel on Thursday said their application for leave to appeal was the beginning of a legal process that AfriForum was prepared to ultimately take to the Constitutional Court and even challenge it internationally.

“It is important that legal certainty be obtained on whether it may happen that in the current constitutional dispensation minority rights can be subordinated to such an extent that even during an emergency situation minorities can be blatantly discriminated against,” Kriel said in a statement.

AfriForum said the COVID-19 crisis had exposed “government’s true colours and its racially-driven goals”.

The lobby group also accused government of being hostile to minority groups in the country, saying that the BBBEE stance on COVID-19 relief funds meant that “minorities will once again have to think about ways to look after themselves and after each other”.

Meanwhile, Solidarity argued that government had a responsibility to all South Africans, saying that “it is insane and immoral of government to insist that it has a right to discriminate.”

“It is outrageous that relief funds are allocated in such a way. We are not talking about subsidies or support here. We are talking about a government which has forced an industry to its knees as a result of a cumbersome and harmful lockdown and which then decides that only business owners belonging to a certain race group may have access to emergency funding,” said Solidarity’s chief executive Dirk Hermann.

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

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