Tourism Department’s COVID-19 fund appeal case to be heard in the Constitutional Court

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The Department of Tourism’s appeal case is expected to be heard in the Constitutional Court on Thursday.

The department is appealing the 2021 ruling by the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein, in favour of Solidarity and AfriForum.

The court ruled that it was unlawful for the Tourism Minister to require that tourism businesses meet Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) requirements, in order to be considered for relief from government’s COVID-19 fund.

Last year, the High Court in Pretoria interdicted government from processing applications or making payments from its Tourism Equity Fund.

In April 2020, government announced a Tourism Relief Fund of R200 million to provide once-off payments of up to R50 000 to businesses in the tourism industry that were adversely affected.

Last year, AfriForum and Solidarity  argued in the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein that the Minister of Tourism failed to use the relevant criteria for tourism relief funding under the Disaster Management Act.

They say the Minister was not lawfully entitled to use the B-BBEE criteria as the only way for applying for emergency funds in the tourism sector.

Afriforum’s senior counsel Greta Engelbrecht says, “This was not the exercise by her of a ministerial discretion of executive decision making. This was the application by the Tourism Department of principles that it sought applied in the circumstances of relief funding. And we say on that basis, this matter falls to be reviewed under PAIA and the sub sections including the fact that the minister made a mistake in law by relying on Section 10 of the B-BBEE Act.”

VIDEO: In 2021, AfriForum and Solidarity challened the High Court decision which favoured the Tourism Department to use the B-BBEE criteria for relief fund:

VIDEO: Former Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi speaks  on COVID-19 Tourism Relief Fund in 2020: