Solidarity headed to Supreme Court to challenge 'racist' Covid-19 tourism funding
Durban - Trade union Solidarity is going to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) to continue challenging Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane for making BBBEE criterion to provide financial relief to small tourism businesses affected by Covid-19 pandemic.
Solidarity chief executive Dirk Hermann spoke to Independent Media on Saturday morning after the Constitutional Court had dismissed an application filed by Solidarity and AfriForum to directly appeal against last week’s ruling by the North Gauteng High Court, which favoured Kubayi-Ngubane.
Solidarity together with AfriForum had joined forces in fighting against Kubayi-Ngubane’s decision, which they described as “racist”.
“We will continue now with the appeal to the SCA because the Constitutional Court said we cannot get direct access (to the Constitutional Court).
“That is our next step because the fact of the matter is that we are not gonna stop because we think it is bizarre to award aid based on the colour of the skin during the crisis time like this,” said Hermann.
Hermann said Solidarity felt strongly that Kubayi-Ngubane was racially discriminating white-owned tourism businesses and was violating government regulations of the Covid-19.
“Therefore we say that people in need must be the criteria and not the colour of their skin, therefore this (Constitution Court ruling) is not the stop street.
“Unfortunately the fact is now that people will wait further to hear (the outcome),” he said.
He said despite that white-own tourism businesses had suffered almost the same as their black counterparts, the most affected by the situation were employees “whose majority happen to be black”.
“The problem is that we are a trade union, so we don’t act on behalf of the owners of businesses, but we act on behalf of the employees.
“The white owners have been hit hard by the decision not to give help on the ground of their race, but the fact of the matter is that employees have been hit hard as well regardless of their colour, but the majority of the employees in the industry are black,” he said.
In its ruling, nine Constitutional Court judges said they dismissed the application as it was not in the interest of justice to hear it.
“There are insufficient grounds raised for a direct appeal to this court on an urgent basis,” read the ruling.
Reacting to the ruling, the department said it was happy that the high court had reaffirmed that there was an uneven playing field between white and black-owned companies, “created by the country’s historical imbalances and confirmed the criteria as being well within the law.”
Kubayi-Ngubane said the department has always maintained that the Covid-19 relief programmes were based on principles of fairness, equity and justice.
“It is therefore inconceivable for this particular programme to be discriminatory on the basis of race,” said Minister Kubayi-Ngubane.
AfriForum chief executive Kallie Kriel had said previously that the two parties had decided to approach the Constitutional Court directly as there was an urgent need to assist small tourism businesses owned by members of minority groups (whites), “just like all other small tourism businesses”.