The Department of Tourism won the court case against AfriForum and Solidarity challenging government’s decision to use broad-based black economic empowerment scores, to determine who its eligible for the R200 million in emergency funding for tourism-related businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a statement released by the department on Thursday afternoon, the department announced its victory in the Pretoria High Court on Tuesday, saying that both these organisations failed to convince the court to set aside B-BBEE as the criterion to score in the disbursement of the fund.
Minister of tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Nguabane says the court found ‘nothing racial or shameful’ the inclusion of B-BBEE in the criteria as the applicants sought to suggest.
“We have always maintained that the design of our programmes is guided by the principles of fairness and justice. It is, therefore, inconceivable for this programme to be discriminatory on the basis on race,” Kubayi-Nguabane says.
She says that this is a great victory for the people of South Africa and for economic inclusivity.
Applications wheels in motion
The court case had cased for the processing of applications for the relief fund to be put on halt.
The minister said during a webinar hosted by South African Tourism CEO Sisa Ntshona on Wednesday afternoon, that she would like to see the court case aside and process the current applications.
“We had temporarily halted the process to allow the matter to be finalised in court. Our people, who are in desperate need of these funds to save their businesses, were subjected to delays by those with little respect for transformation. I am satisfied that the court has reaffirmed our position that even during this crisis, we cannot ignore the fault lines that exist in our society,” said Minister Kubayi-Ngubane.
The Tourism Relief Fund provides once-off capped grant assistance to Small Micro and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMMEs) in the tourism value chain to ensure their sustainability during and post the implementation of government measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 in South Africa.
It is capped at R50 000 per entity, grant funding can be utilised to subsidise expenses towards fixed costs, operational costs, supplies and other pressure cost items.