The ANC and other interest groups have lashed out at the Afrikaner lobby group AfriForum and trade union Solidarity, accusing them of trying to block transformation in the tourism sector after they took Minister of Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane to court over the Tourism Equity Fund.
AfriForum and Solidarity have questioned the legality and morality of the fund, demanding to know its qualification criteria, describing it as discriminatory and accusing Kubayi-Ngubane of applying “apartheid in reverse” with the fund’s empowerment provisions.
They suggested that the minister had deviated from the provisions of the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Act.
The Tourism Equity Fund was established by the minister of tourism in partnership with the Small Enterprise Funding Agency (SEFA) to provide access to finance for small enterprises in the tourism sector that are at least 51% black-owned. The tourism sector has been one of the biggest casualties of Covid-19.
ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe said: “We regard AfriForum’s litigation as a declaration of war against transformation and an inclusive economy. It is meant to suffocate and frustrate the emergence and sustainability of new players in the tourism sector – women- and youth-owned entrepreneurs, tourism and leisure associations, stokvels and travel clubs in townships and rural areas.”
The ANC was joined in its criticism of the groups by the African Unite Borders Bus Trucks Association, which praised Kubayi-Ngubane for forwarding black economic empower in the tourism sector.
The association’s chairperson, Phumudzo Mukhwathi, accused AfriForum and Solidarity of being “white racist groups” that always used courts to undermine black leadership in government and other sectors.
Mukhwathi said the association supported the minister because black people never benefited during apartheid. He said 80%of the tourism sector belonged to white people.
“We are tired of AfriForum and Solidarity using courts to block the future of South African youth. These organisations want to use the same apartheid ways to oppose financing for blacks.
“But AfriForum and Solidarity benefited from the apartheid government and even banks are dominated and captured by whites,” Mukhwathi said.
Mukhwathi said the bus association and other black tourism stakeholders would attend the court case to protest against AfriForum and Solidarity.
ANC’s Mabe said the Tourism Equity Fund was a ground-breaking empowerment tool which must be defended by all who were interested in an inclusive economy that benefited all.
He said the Fund was a critical instrument in the implementation of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP).
Mabe said: “It is regrettable that AfriForum has a tendency to invoke the race card in order to demonise progressive interventions that are meant to support and empower the historically marginalised to become active participants in the economy.
“The ANC remains unwavering in its commitment to the radical transformation of all sectors of the South African economy and will continue to lead society in pursuit of this objective.”
The governing party welcomed Kubayi-Ngubane’s efforts to transform the tourism sector and challenged emerging enterprises to grab the opportunity brought by her initiatives.