AfriForum court challenge over 'racist' Covid-19 aid postponed to next week
AfriForum's legal challenge to the race criteria used to determine which businesses score state-sponsored Covid-19 relief bailouts, has been postponed to next week.
The Pretoria high court on Tuesday ruled that the organisation's urgent application for review against the department of tourism’s use of race as a benchmark for the awarding of Covid-19 relief to tourism enterprises be heard on April 28.
This follows an agreement reached on Monday by AfriForum and the department of tourism.
The parties also agreed that AfriForum’s application would be heard together with a similar application made by Solidarity.
“The ruling further determines that the department undertakes that no decisions regarding the awarding of relief would be made before the court had ruled thereon,” said AfriForum in a statement.
AfriForum's Kallie Kriel has welcomed the department’s undertaking to halt any decisions about the racially driven Covid-19 relief programme pending a court ruling.
“It is important that the court sees that both employees and employers will be negatively affected by the racial benchmarks in Covid-19 relief. AfriForum and Solidarity’s applications will ensure that both of these perspectives are placed before the court,” said Kriel.
In its court papers, AfriForum said it had requested that the application be handled on an urgent basis, “seeing as the department will now already decide on a weekly basis which tourism enterprises will be helped”.
According to Kriel, the fund now has R200m.
Included in its application are various case studies with the court papers of business enterprises that are being disadvantaged by the requirements.
“It is disgraceful that the government has decided to misuse assistance to struggling enterprises to promote a race-based agenda, even in a time where everyone in the country needs to stand together against the mutual enemy — Covid-19,” said Kriel.
He said the department’s racial requirements amounted to unfair discrimination and were unconstitutional.
“The expressed aim of the department’s fund is to offer assistance to tourism enterprises that are being adversely affected by Covid-19.
“Seeing as everyone, regardless of their race, is being adversely affected by Covid-19, the department cannot use Section 9(2) of the constitution, which justifies correction of discrimination from the past, as justification for discriminating assistance against the consequences of Covid-19,” Kriel said.
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