South African Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, has welcomed the Constitutional Court’s dismissal  (on Friday, May 15) of the joint AfriForum and Solidarity application of appeal to set aside the use of broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) criteria as part of the department’s R200 million (€10m) COVID-19 Tourism Relief Fund for small businesses.

The Court concluded that the application of appeal should be dismissed as “it is not in the interest of justice to hear it at this stage, as there are insufficient grounds raised for a direct appeal to this Court on an urgent basis”.

 “We have always maintained that the design of our programmes is guided by the principles of fairness, equality and justice,” said Kubayi-Ngubane. “It is therefore inconceivable for this particular programme to be discriminatory on the basis of race.”

In a post on the AfriForum website, CEO of the civil rights group, Kallie Kriel, noted that while the Constitutional Court clearly indicated that it was not willing to look into it at this stage, no judgment had been made on the merits of the case.

“AfriForum is not mentioned as an applicant in the judgment in the Solidarity case referred to by Kubayi-Ngubane nor is the judgment addressed to AfriForum's legal team,” he said.

The Minister called for both AfriForum and Solidarity to allow the department to focus on the work at hand, primarily the provision of the much-needed relief to distressed beneficiaries and the imperative to lead the recovery of the tourism sector.

“Applications received thus far are more than 13 000. The Department of Tourism has already started the process of payments to beneficiaries and it is important to note that this includes both black and white business owners,” Kubayi-Ngubane said.