This morning, the FF Plus spoke to the Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, and seriously appealed to her to recall the criteria for the relief package of R200 million for small, micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs) and to consider the FF Plus's recommendations in order to prevent great damage and job losses in this sector.
The FF Plus also insists that the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Ebrahim Patel, must suspend the sectoral determinations and relevant legislation with regard to Black Economic Empowerment (BEE), at least for this time of crisis so as to enable the various departments to offer aid irrespective of BEE.
It is shocking and unacceptable that in this critical time when it is vital for every business to try and overcome the fierce challenges of the Covid-19 lockdown, the government is still using race as a criteria to decide who will get the support they need to survive and who will not.
Last week, Minister Kubayi-Ngubane announced that aid for SMMEs will be awarded in accordance with the ANC policy for BEE and economic transformation.
The FF Plus made the following recommendations to the Minister:
1. The tourism sector has a very high employment rate and the Minister's actions could result in great job losses. Most of the SMMEs in the tourism sector are one-man businesses and are, thus, not bound by the empowerment stipulations. Because the sector mostly employs unschooled workers, it ironically means that black employees will be the hardest hit by layoffs.
2. When it comes to Covid-19, the government must take the current problems and circumstances into account and not those of the past. The BEE criteria, which are based on race and restitution, are misplaced and come down to a new form of discrimination without really addressing the problem at hand.
3. By using BEE criteria, the government is creating more victims of the current crisis. This could end up being a great source of embarrassment for the government seeing as some business owners serve the international market and have a strong international profile.
As mentioned in the Minister's message, a large component of the tourism industry is made up of one-man businesses that offer daily tours for tourists and/or offer adventure sports, like skydiving.
It is impossible for such businesses to comply with BEE requirements and, thus, the government is sending white entrepreneurs the rash and inhumane message that their survival and the contribution that they make to the economy are not important to the government.
All legislation governing BEE should have been repealed immediately when the special Covid-19 measures were implemented to ensure that BEE stipulations do not play any role in the allocation of funds to businesses in need.
In the interim, the FF Plus wants to encourage all SMME owners to still apply for aid. The party will consider all ways in which to change the government's mind about the matter or to force it to change, if need be.
The FF Plus has always felt that racist policy, like AA and BEE, are discriminatory and one of the main reasons for South Africa's economic decline. The party will continue to oppose it until it is ultimately abolished in the interest of all the people of this country.