The Constitutional Court has dismissed an urgent application brought by union Solidarity to appeal the High Court's decision to allow the Department of Tourism to include Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment criteria in its allocation of tourism Covid-19 relief.
Solidarity and its associate Afriforum had approached the Constitutional Court after the North Gauteng High Court ruled in the Department of Tourism's favour in April.
Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane welcomed the dismissal, Solidarity said in a
statement on Saturday that it did not consider the matter closed.
"The Constitutional Court dismissed Solidarity’s application to appeal directly to this court. The application followed a ruling by the North Gauteng High Court that the use of race as criterion to determine who may receive aid during the Covid-19 crisis was justified.
"However, the court has not yet given a ruling on AfriForum’s application," Solidarity said. Should the court also dismiss AfriForum’s application, both parties will appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein, it added.
The two parties had argued that using the empowerment-based codes would not allow white-owned companies to compete fairly against black-owned entities, adding that the system was unconstitutional.
An earlier judgment by the North Gauteng High Court found that the criteria of BB-BEE codes of good practice did not perpetuate unfair advantage by black companies.
The minister previously described the matter as "worth defending" and added that transformation was critical within the sector.
Early in April, a R200-million fund was announced by the Department of Tourism to assist small and medium tourism-related businesses whose operations have been financially impacted by Covid-19 related operational challenges. Funding is to be capped at R50 000 per business.
The sector is one of the industries hardest hit by the pandemic as travel restrictions have been rolled out across the globe.
* Compiled by Marelise van der Merwe