Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has poured cold water over the DA’s bid to get the IMF to decline SA a loan if COVID-19 relief funding is allocated only to companies that are compliant with broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE).
DA leader John Steenhuisen this week wrote to IMF MD Kristalina Georgieva urging her to place a condition that any funding from it should “be conditional on its non-racial use”. “There is a big difference between a government redress programme and emergency relief during a pandemic,” he said in his letter on Thursday.
Mboweni said the government was ready to respond to the IMF should any issues be raised.
The National Treasury said it noted the statement by Steenhuisen that the party had petitioned the IMF to censure the government.
“The minister of finance wishes to point out that the IMF deals directly with governments of sovereign nations and not political parties. Should there be any correspondence from the IMF, we will be happy to respond to any issues raised. We would, in such an instance, make it clear that all policies of the government are guided by and are within the ambit of the South African constitution,” said the Treasury.
The departments of small business and tourism have been targeted by lobby groups Solidarity and AfriForum for saying relief funding would be allocated to B-BBEE-compliant companies.
Last week, Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane scored a major victory when the Pretoria High Court ruled in her favour over the use of race in relief funding.
“At the level of principle and given the deep fault lines including those of poverty, race and exclusion that continue to exist in our society, the onset of the COVID-19 crisis on the one hand united South Africans in dealing with and attempting to overcome the impact of the virus,” the high court said.
“On the other hand, it has also sharply highlighted the fault lines in our society where it is so evident that more often than not the poor and the disadvantaged face the major brunt of the crisis.
“The response to the crisis must therefore recognise this uneven playing field and therefore calibrating such a response to deal with the impact of the crisis, as well as the effect of historical disadvantage, is not only permissible at the level of principle but warranted and necessary.”
The DA has also approached the courts to stop Small Business Development Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni from using B-BBEE for small business relief.