Tourism minister lashes out at BEE critics ahead of ConCourt challenge
The R200-million relief fund, intended to assist South African tourism companies, has stirred up a hornets' nest.
Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has hit back at critics of the department’s relief fund which is guided by broad-based BEE (B-BBEE) codes.
Amid a slew of legal challenges and public outcry concerning the fund’s race-based rules, Kubayi-Ngubane took exception to arguments made by Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Hildegard Boshoff during a virtual parliamentary briefing before the Tourism Portfolio Committee.
In response to Boshoff’s criticism, who accused the department of playing the ‘race card’, Kubayi-Ngubane pointed to “three hundred years of discrimination” as a primary reason for BEE policies. In addition, a defiant Kubayi-Ngubane argued that “white compatriots” who were non-compliant had chosen to ignore the laws of the country and, in so doing, had only themselves to blame for exclusion from the Tourism Relief Fund.
Tourism Relief Fund: Constitutional Court battle looms
The minister’s argument comes just days after a court bid by lobby group, AfriForum, and trade union movement, Solidarity, which was intended to have the tourism fund’s criteria reviewed, was dismissed. Both groups have vowed to bring the matter before the Constitutional Court. Solidarity CEO Dirk Hermann said:
“We’re saying that a disastrous situation like this, where everyone is actually affected, we must help on the basis of your need and not the basis of your skin.”
Kubayi-Ngubane, who has accepted the legal challenge and remains committed to “defending our policies”, enjoys the support of the Black Business Council (BBC), which has vowed to assist the minister in the looming Constitutional Court battle.
Kubayi-Ngubane questions ‘white compatriots’
During Monday’s parliamentary briefing, Kubayi-Ngubane noted that the tourism fund’s policies were in line with government directives. The minister went on to question the prerogatives of those who felt blighted by the BEE practices, saying:
“The policy says that if you are a small business, in terms of the categories that we have put, you qualify to be exempted. The question we must ask [is] why our fellow white compatriots, South Africans, felt that they could ignore the laws of this country.”
Hermann has, however, argued that the department’s relief strategy is short-sighted in the sense that it limited assistance to the tourism sector and had the potential to hurt both black employees and business owners alike. During an interview with Cape Talk, Herman explained:
“We did not focus so much on the employers – AfriForum focused on that – but the fact of the matter is that round about 94% of employees in this industry are excluded from help… Two thirds of the industry are black workers and if you are a black worker and you work for a white-owned company, then you are discriminated against.”