DA calls on Ramaphosa to stop racialising Covid-19 economic relief
BRIEFLY / 10 APRIL 2020 - 18.00 / SAMANTHA RIDDLE
- The Democratic Alliance has condemned the 'racialisation' of coronavirus financial relief measures
- This comes after the Department of Tourism announced that B-BBEE codes would be used to allocate emergency relief
- The opposition party has sought out legal advice on the constitutionality of this move, adamant that the virus does not discriminate when it comes to victims
The Democratic Alliance has announced that it will be consulting lawyers over the legality of placing race-based restrictions on the coronavirus financial relief measures. In a statement on the issue, the opposition party explained that a Department of Tourism announcement revealed that B-BBEE codes would be used to determine who is helped during this crisis.
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has also encouraged only black, coloured and Indian farmers to apply for assistance.
Interim leader John Steenhuisen has slammed this decision, saying that this is not the time to separate on the basis of race:
"It is not only unconscionable that critical financial relief in this time of distress for thousands of businesses and commercial entities is racialised, it is most likely illegal too. The DA will not allow the ANC to use this crisis to further divide our nation, and we will use every avenue available to us to fight for the right of all South Africans, black and white, to benefit from emergency assistance."
Briefly.co.za reported that an earlier claim over businesses seeking to benefit from the relief fund had to be 51% black-owned had been dismissed as fake news by the government. Now, Steenhuisen says that fundraising has ended for the fund and the truth of the situation has been exposed:
"But less than two weeks later – and with the relief fund now several billion Rand strong – it has become clear that this was never the case, and that race and B-BBEE codes were always going to be used to determine who government would help and who it wouldn’t. This makes a mockery of the President’s televised pleas for South Africans to unite in fighting this common enemy."
The party leader is adamant that the colour of an employer's skin should not factor in during this time of crisis:
"The reality is that the skin colour of an employer does not determine the true victims of this crisis. Most of these businesses and farms, which will be excluded from government assistance on the basis of race, employ an overwhelming majority of black employees. It is these people who will lose their jobs and their ability to look after their families if the government gets away with its race-based relief effort."
Steenhuisen called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to 'do the right thing' and heed his own calls for unity:
"The DA will not stand by and let this happen. While we explore our legal options in this matter, we call on President Ramaphosa to do the right thing here – to reverse the decision to racialise these relief measures and to instruct his cabinet ministers to assist each and every South African who needs help in this time." Attempts to garner comment from the government over this situation went unanswered.
Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER