On Monday trade union Solidarity served an urgent application on the Presidency and various other ministries to demand clarity on specifications set in the prerequisites for small businesses (SMMEs) to qualify for funding. The case is scheduled to be heard in the Northern Gauteng High Court on 28 April.
This comes after Solidarity lodged a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on 25 March against government’s plans to make the granting of crisis funding for small, medium and micro enterprises subject to black economic empowerment.
“Now is not the time to treat small businesses that are in difficulty as a mere headcount of their racial parts,” Anton van der Bijl, head of Solidarity’s Labour Law Services said. “Those businesses are worth more than a headcount. Government is trying to make the racial sums balance but ultimately the entire South Africa will be suffering as a result.”
Solidarity says it is opposed to the state using this economic crisis as an opportunity to expand its ideology of race. “Government cannot be firm when it comes to its far-reaching powers in terms of the lockdown regulations, but then be vague about the ways in which it will come to the rescue of small businesses,” Van der Bijl contended.
No clear criteria are available to determine who qualifies for SMME assistance. “We insist that this information be disclosed. It creates confusion when the minister claims that the state’s slide presentation dealing with the application by SMMEs for emergency funding was fake news when, in reality, it was not. Government may have renounced the presentation but it is clear that they are still clinging to their racial approach. Solidarity will not allow that a lack of making information available is used to inconspicuously promote the state’s race ideology during this crisis,” Van der Bijl concluded.