B-BBEE legislation not suspended due to Covid-19, says tourism minister
Pretoria - The Constitution and other laws are not suspended during the coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown period, and broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) remains law and in place, Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said following a virtual meeting with the Black Business Council (BBC) leadership this week.
The meeting discussed, among other things, implementation of B-BBEE and government's response to the Covid-19 pandemic, she said in a statement issued following the meeting.
The delegations, led by Kubayi-Ngubane and BBC president Sandile Zungu, further discussed the state of transformation in the tourism sector and the measures the department had taken to accelerate transformation, she said.
"Regrettably, this critical and necessary discussion comes at a time when the world is facing an unprecedented crisis that has put the economy on a tailspin. The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has placed many businesses, mainly SMMEs, in precarious position with threats to livelihoods and jobs - and the tourism sector is not spared. This is coupled with a growing toxic and skewed narrative that seek to undermine the legitimate laws of this county.
"Over the last few days, we have seen attempts by some in our country who try to use the current crisis to delegitimise government and policies like B-BBEE scoring as part of criteria for relief funding for distressed SMMEs. We would like to remind all and sundry that the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and other laws are not suspended during this period. As such, B-BBEE remains law and in place and as such, should not be undermined in haste," Kubayi-Ngubane said.
The meeting "attached great importance on fostering co-operation in advancing transformation, particularly in the tourism sector and creating favourable conditions for the smaller players in the sector to thrive".
The BBC intended to join proceedings, as a friend of the court, in the event of more legal action against the tourism department’s decision to insist on promoting the transformation objectives in the awarding of the R200 million tourism relief fund. This was inextricably linked to maintaining the nature of the recovery that the sector would undergo post the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Last week, the department claimed victory over AfriForum and Solidarity in the North Gauteng High Court, which recognised the uneven playing field between white and black-owned companies, created by the country’s historical imbalances. The court also agreed with the department that the closure of black business 'would undermine and set back transformation'."
“We are committed to the creation of an inclusive growing economy and it is important that we recognise that our country has a past that was characterised by the exclusion of the majority from participating in the mainstream economy. Our government has adopted the B-BBEE policy as part of the effort to heal the divisions of past and to work towards creating a society that gives a fair chance for the majority of South Africans to succeed," she said.
“As part of the efforts to deracialise the economy, it is important for government to unashamedly assist those who were previously disadvantaged and who now require assistance to become entrepreneurs,” Zungu said in the statement.
African News Agency/ANA
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