Minister of Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has explained that her department’s coronavirus relief fund is legally bound by existing Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) regulations.
The Department of Tourism has faced criticism after it announced that its R200 million Tourism Relief Fund will be administered in line with ‘the objectives of economic transformation’ and will be ‘guided by the tourism Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment codes of good practices’.
Civil society group Afriforum has subsequently brought an urgent court application against the minister on the grounds that her department is ‘using race as a benchmark’ for the awarding of the relief fund.
However, Kubayi-Ngubane has indicated that her hands were tied on the issue.
Speaking in an interview with 702, she said that the Department of Tourism is acting in accordance with Section 10 of the B-BBEE Act which makes the application of B-BBEE codes of good practice mandatory.
“I am battling to understand why I am being called a racist. When you are a minister you don’t have the option to apply a law or regulation because you think they are suitable now. You are obligated and it is mandatory for you to apply the laws.”
The minister added that the current regulations do not allow for any optional application.
“The law states that any resource I (as a minister) am using – either as a grant, or a loan, or anything else – it is mandatory for me to apply the BEE codes.
“Quite a lot of political parties and other groups have been engaging with me, but it’s not up for me to decide because tomorrow you will call me a ‘rogue minister’. This is mandatory for me as a minister.”
Kubayi-Ngubane said that it might ultimately be better for the issue to be decided in court as then her department can get an express legal standing on either decision. She added that another group would likely have taken her to court if she did not follow the regulations.
The minister said she had also expressly sought legal advice on these issues before the fund was announced.