Judgment reserved in Solidarity case over race being used for tourism relief
DURBAN, April 28 (ANA) - Judgment was reserved on Tuesday in the Northern Gauteng High Court in the case brought by trade union Solidarity and civil rights group AfriForum against the Department of Tourism using race as a criteria for emergency business relief due to Covid-19.
Solidarity said that the judgment would be emailed to all parties next week. Both organisations had asked that the race-based criteria for relief be reviewed.
"Solidarity contends that black economic empowerment (BEE) specifically aims to redress the inequalities of the past and that there is no room for it in the use of emergency relief funds in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
"By regulation, micro businesses are exempt from BEE under normal circumstances.
“Race does not play a role in the pandemic and therefore BEE cannot play a role in the allocation of emergency funds,” said Solidarity's chief executive, Dr Dirk Hermann.
According to Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, the department was obliged by law to grant relief funds only according to BEE requirements.
“BEE and the many administrative and financial obligations that come with it now suddenly apply to these businesses, and that amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
"The fund excludes large enterprises, most micro enterprises that are white-owned and small enterprises that are not registered for tax purposes, most of which are black-owned,” Hermann said.
Only companies with a turnover of less than R5 million per year and that are registered for tax purposes qualify for help.
"Consequently, it only includes a small group of black owners, constituting 7 percent of the sector who will qualify for the lion’s share of the relief fund," said Hermann.
The flip side of this was that 93% of owners, as well as thousands of small informal black businesses, were excluded from any help, he said.
"In this industry, two out of every three employees are black, in other words, a total of 350 000 employees will not benefit from the fund."
He said the fund discriminated on two levels, firstly against white businesses and secondly against all employees, white and black.
"Black employees of white employers will not be spared the distress,” said Hermann.
Solidarity filed a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission on March 25 after the government indicated that relief funds would be allocated on the basis of race.
An urgent application was served on the department on March 30.
African News Agency (ANA)