DA loses appeal against disaster relief fund criteria ruling
Johannesburg - The DA has lost its appeal of the North Gauteng High Court ruling which states the government’s disaster relief fund criteria must take into account race, gender, youth and disability.
A full bench of the high court – Judge President Dunstan Mlambo, Competition Appeal Court Judge President Dennis Davis and Judge Daisy Molefe – on Wednesday dismissed the official opposition’s application for leave to appeal their judgment reviewing and setting aside the criteria for the debt finance scheme and the business growth resilience fund set by Small Business Development Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni and declaring it unlawful.
The judges ruled the declaration of unlawfulness will not affect any funds which have been distributed in terms of the existing criteria to persons or entities under either the scheme or the fund as at the date of the delivery of their judgment, which was June 19.
However, the judges also declared that in reformulating the criteria to be employed in the distribution of the scheme and fund, Ntshavheni must take into account race, gender, youth and disability.
The decision to order Ntshavheni to adhere to the criteria prompted the DA to launch its application for leave to appeal this part of the judgment at the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).
According to the DA, the basis of its appeal was there were reasonable prospects that the SCA could find that Ntshavheni was not obliged to have regard to race, gender, youth and disability when distributing disaster relief from the scheme and the fund.
”The Constitution enjoins fundamental social and economic redress after 300 years of colonial and apartheid rule. There is in our view therefore no prospect that another court would apply a literal interpretation to the Disaster Management Act and gloss over the context in which the act must be interpreted,” read the judgment.
The judges warned that to do so would be to live in a world totally divorced from the racism and sexism that continues to divide the country and where those most in need and most in vulnerable conditions happen to be black.
The DA had argued those in need should be assisted equally without considering race, gender, youth or disability and that this was inconsistent with the spirit, purport and objects of the bill of rights.
The judges found the DA jumped the gun without waiting for Ntshavheni to reformulate new regulations as ordered by the court.