Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, today shared an anecdote with Parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance illustrating the strangling hold of Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) on the economy during the Covid-19 lockdown period.
He told of a conversation with the owner of the Magoebaskloof Hotel where 95% of the staff are black South Africans. The hotel’s white owner told the him that he is excluded from the Government’s relief aid, thereby excluding his staff from aid as well.
In contrast to his colleagues’ discriminatory regulations about who should benefit from vital Covid-19 aid, Minister Mboweni stated that he cannot support a policy position that excludes some people based on the colour of their skin. He promised that he would have a conversation with Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, in this regard.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the Finance Minister’s rational and sober comments on this important issue and we hope that he will also include other Ministers who have expressed support of demographic criteria for relief.
Minister Mboweni’s comments underscore the importance of the DA’s court action against Government’s blanket discrimination during the National State of Disaster. We are seeking the Court to declare it unlawful for Government to use BBBEE status and other demographic indicators as a criteria to determine who will receive economic or other forms of relief. Our application will seek to establish a precedent across all sectors under the Disaster Management Act.
On Monday, Minister Kubayi-Ngubane made outrageous comments during Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Tourism stating that the use of BBBEE criteria was “non-negotiable” and that the tourism industry must not be allowed to regress during the Covid-19 pandemic to the point that it looks like “pre-1994”.
While staring herself blind against white-owned businesses, she completely disregards the impact discriminatory criteria will have on the industry as a whole – particularly those who she claims to be so adamant about uplifting.
She is not the only one who only pays lip service to the poor and struggling. The Minister of Small Business, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, is using the same template for relief aid as Minister Kubayi-Ngubane. First the Minister cried wolf when it came to light that BBBEE criteria were to be used to judge applications for relief aid. When the truth came to light that it was in fact the case, the Minister did not even offer an apology for the earlier deceit.
Certain Ministers seem adamant that saving lives will play second fiddle to ideology.
Minister Mboweni’s opposition to their idiotic regulations is therefore welcomed and we call upon him to join the DA in our fight for all South African businesses to have access to financial relief.
We maintain that it is utterly unconscionable and unconstitutional for the Government of a free and democratic country to employ BBBEE, race, gender, age or disability criteria when offering assistance.
The ship is taking on water and instead of doing everything possible to stop it from sinking, the Government is pitching passengers overboard while floating rescue devices deliberately just out of reach.