Lobby group AfriForum has given Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane a week to address its concerns over government’s relief fund for small businesses to cushion them from the impact of COVID-19.

The Minister has announced that the fund will be in line with the department’s policy of black economic empowerment and economic transformation.

However, AfriForum says this is discriminatory as the COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone.

The CEO of the organisation Kallie Kriel says they will approach the court if the Minister does not revise the policy.

“We believe it is a disgrace at the moment that in a time of crisis where we have a common enemy such as COVID-19 and which we should all fighting together, government is implementing a racial policy. The fact is the virus knows no colour and you can not confuse measures with assistance in supposed of crisis. We believe in times of crisis everybody should be assisted and that is why we will fight this to the bitter end.”

The DA says this is not a time to apply a racial criteria in determining eligibility for government relief for businesses affected by COVID-19.

“This is not a time for petty political ideologies to prevail. Corona knows no race, it knows no class and it knows no differentiation between businesses. It is going to affect our economy no matter what your race no matter where you live. It therefore makes absolutely no sense whatsoever in this time of great crisis for SA to be resorting to petty racial bean-counting. We need to fight this virus together. We need to ensure that relief is available to all businesses who qualify for such relief by government,” says DA Interim leader John Steenhuisen.

Good news for wine industry

Western Cape Agriculture Minister Ivan Meyer has welcomed the amendment of the Disaster Management Act regulations to allow for the export of wine from South Africa.

He says transporting wines, agricultural cargo and fresh produce to sea ports and international airports is now permitted during the lockdown period.

Meyer says the top export products from the province include citrus fruit, wines, grapes, fresh apples, pears and quinces. Meyer says the wine industry is an important contributor to the agricultural economy and a major job creator in the province.

“The Western Cape is the home of 98% of all the wine cellars of South Africa and we are pleased that wine exports will now continue. We are ready to protect our agricultural exports and this amendment is welcomed in the Western Cape,” Meyer says.