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During this morning’s joint meeting of the standing committee and select committees of finance, a heated exchange took place on the matter of race-based criteria on Covid-19 relief funding.
To the surprise of many in last week’s meeting, the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni admitted that he could not support a policy position that discriminated against business owners based on their race. When it came to documenting this in the committee’s report, there was heated debate.
In reponse, the Co-Chairperson, Yunus Carrim today said that it annoyed the ANC when Mboweni spoke his mind. This drove further disagreement as the Chairperson of the Select Committee on Appropriations Dikaledi Mahlangu distanced herself from Carrim’s comment in the chat section of the virtual meeting.
While the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the meeting stressed the importance that the committee should clearly state in its report that racial criteria would not be used for relief funding, several of the ANC members doggedly refused to accept the changes that were proposed.
Taking into account the comments by Mboweni and Carrim, it is so evidently clear that not even the ANC is united on this matter and some in the party ranks can see it for what it is; an unconstitutional policy.
The DA rejects the racialisation of relief funds in the face of the economically disastrous Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown. While the ANC struggles with its internal battles to determine policy and direction, the priority of government must be to save as many jobs as it can.
It is for this reason that the DA has approached the Courts to seek urgent relief to prevent the unlawful use of B-BBEE status, race, gender, age or disability as criteria in relation to economic or other forms of relief or assistance.
Although Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) may be a policy of Government, the response to Covid-19 must be inclusive to ensure that jobs can be saved regardless of the race of the employer.