The civil rights organization AfriForum has instructed its legal team to submit an urgent review application against the Minister of Small Business, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, regarding the use of black economic empowerment criteria for granting aid during the Covid 19 crisis.
Solidarity has meanwhile written an urgent letter to Ntshavheni demanding that she refrain from using race as a criterion for qualifying for aid funds.
Kallie Kriel, CEO of AfriForum, accuses Ntshavheni of being dishonest when she dismissed AfriForum’s statement about her department’s use of racial criteria in granting aid as “news” last month, just to announce this week that racial criteria did will play a role.
“As if it is not unethical enough for the government to promote a racial agenda even in times of crisis, the situation is exacerbated by the minister’s deliberate misrepresentations,” Kriel said in a statement on Wednesday.
Kriel argues that Ntshavheni’s dishonesty is being exacerbated as her department was even prepared to plead in court documents signed under oath to Solidarity not to continue using racial criteria when granting aid to businesses.
On March 25, Solidarity lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Commission about the racial requirements that are reserved for the qualification of emergency funds. An urgent application was submitted to the Department of Small Business and Tourism on March 30, after which the department confirmed under oath that it would not continue to make available on the basis of race.
Solidarity was in the Northern Gauteng High Court on April 28 to conduct the case against the department. However, the case was not continued because court documents from the department confirmed that race would not be used as a criterion.
“It is shocking that a minister is prepared to declare under oath that race will not be a criterion in the allocation of emergency funds and to confirm it as a criterion immediately after the court case with the Department of Tourism. The minister is guilty of perjury, ”says Dr. Dirk Hermann, chief executive of Solidarity, now.
According to Hermann, Solidarity will continue urgent civil action against the department to declare the discriminatory racial criterion for emergency funds unlawful, should Solidarity not receive an undertaking from the department on 1 May 2020 at 13:00 that the requirement will be scrapped.
“This behavior of the minister is contrary to her oath. We can’t leave it there. The pandemic does not discriminate. The consequences of the pandemic also do not discriminate and we do not expect the state to discriminate when it comes to granting aid, ”Hermann says.
The DA gave Ntshavheni time until Wednesday at 17:00 to withdraw her statements.