Battle brews over government’s ‘transformation fund’ for tourism
BUSINESS TECH / 17 FEBRUARY 2021 - 14.44 / STAFF WRITER
Tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has defended her department’s plans to roll out the Tourism Equity Fund (TEF) – but opponents are getting ready to take the matter to court.
The fund was established and launched by the department in partnership with the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA), as a new financial support mechanism to stimulate investment and transformation in the tourism sector.
“The fund was set up as public/private partnership, in particular with commercial banks, in an effort to crowd-in investments in the tourism sector so as to increase diversification and the broadening of ownership of tourism attractions in South Africa,” Kubayi-Ngubane said.
However, she noted that the fund has faced criticism from trade union Solidarity and civil society Afriforum, who have questioned the legality, morality and transformative outcome of the qualification criteria for the fund, suggesting that it deviates from the provisions of the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE Act).
The minister said she met with the two groups this week to explain the fund and why it is necessary.
“We communicated to Solidarity and AfriForum that the TEF is a necessary intervention for creating an inclusive tourism economy, in which previously disadvantaged individuals, youth and women, are represented and can actively participate in ownership and control.
“This fund will support our collective efforts towards economic recovery and reconstruction so that we can move firmly towards the eradication of the legacy of colonialism and apartheid,” said the minister.
In response, Solidarity and AfriForum said that they will continue with their planned litigation with regard to the Tourism Equity Fund (TEF). This after the meeting between these organisations and the department did not yield any results.
“No concessions were made or proffered at all from their side. After we presented them with countless proposals and several explanations regarding the consequences and implications of their actions, they simply confirmed their initial position and questioned our motives,” said Morné Malan, head of communications at Solidarity.
The organisations said the department arranged and managed the meeting in bad faith. As a result, litigation is now inevitable.
“It is clear that the minister of tourism does not have the interests of all the various communities at heart. Instead of her department reaching out to businesses that are in trouble, the department is now abusing the situation by using it as an opportunity to promote its race-driven goals,” Monique Taute, head of campaigns at AfriForum said.
“Like all other small tourism businesses, those businesses owned by members of minority communities need urgent assistance. Many businesses already had to close their doors after the government’s severe Covid-19 restrictions.
“It is immoral for the government to now use life buoys to help the people on the riverside, while thousands of others are drowning,” Taute said.
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