Business organisation Sakeliga today condemned race-based criteria for Covid-19 financial aid to small businesses.
“We note with great concern that the new SMME relief fund requires applicants to indicate the race of shareholders and employees. The Covid-19 crisis is not the time for government to apply BEE-criteria. It is a time for extraordinary relaxation of out-dated ideological interventions so that the small and medium-sized businesses of this country can pick us up from the economic depths we are about to enter,” says Piet le Roux, CEO of Sakeliga.
Sakeliga has approached the Department of Small Business and Enterprise for clarity on this matter and intends to take any and all necessary steps to ensure that aid to SMMEs is available regardless of race.
“We welcome the incredible assistance offered by the Oppenheimer and Rupert families, amounting to R1 billion each, and especially that their aid is BEE-free and available to all,” says Le Roux. Notably, a tweet on the twitter account associated with Mr Johann Rupert (@cutmaker) has made it clear that “our assistance will be available to ALL South African businesses.”
Le Roux continues: “To apply BEE in a time of pandemic is unconscionable – especially in light of the fact that it was government’s decision to initiate the lockdown in the first place. All businesses contribute to the economy – and a strong private sector is of crucial importance if we want to see any sort of economic recovery after the pandemic has finished. It is vital that Government extends the same assistance to all businesses – and not misuse the crisis to advance its ideological goals.”
“These relief packages are intended to compensate SMME’s for financial losses suffered during the Covid-19 epidemic and subsequent lockdown – losses which will be suffered by all businesses, regardless of the owner’s race. And harm that will be suffered by the SMME’s employees, clients and customers, also regardless of race,” says Le Roux.
Sakeliga calls on all parts of society to reject these policies with the contempt they deserve.
Sakeliga and its lawyers are currently approaching the relevant government departments for confirmation and clarity. “We will take this to court if necessary, and if that is what it takes, internationally, as the Government would be in violation of, inter alia, the provisions of the International Covenant on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.”