CITY OF CAPE TOWN | 24 APRIL 2020
STATEMENT BY THE CITY’S MAYORAL COMMITTEE MEMBER FOR ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES AND ASSET MANAGEMENT, ALDERMAN JAMES VOS
The tourism sector has come to a complete halt due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the measures taken, both nationally and internationally, to contain the spread.
The National Department of Tourism established the Tourism Relief Fund to help Small Micro and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMMEs) in this sector. However, the criteria used to determine who qualifies effectively exclude a large number of businesses based on race.
The fact is that all businesses should qualify for relief funding. Exclusionary and onerous criteria should not apply in a state of disaster. This will only serve to divide us when we need to pull together to get through this crisis.
Over the last few weeks, I have written numerous letters to the Minister of Tourism, Ms Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, to seek clarity on the criteria and to argue for these criteria to be broadened. After Minister Kubayi-Ngubane’s insistence that racial criteria will apply, I wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa requesting his intervention. Sadly, all my pleas have fallen on deaf ears.
Taking into account the Intergovernmental Relations Framework, the Executive Mayor of Cape Town, Alderman Dan Plato, has now written to Minister Kubayi-Ngubane to request a meeting to negotiate and put forward our request that all SMMEs be allowed to qualify for relief, no matter their race.
We remain hopeful that the Minister will take into account the plight of all businesses and their employees who are being negatively affected by this crisis, and that no discrimination be applied.
An intergovernmental dispute will be our last recourse. However, we will not hesitate to pursue this option in these unprecedented times when millions of jobs and businesses are on the line.
Only by working together will we weather this storm. I have received many calls and emails from tourism-based small businesses who do not qualify for relief assistance and who desperately need help in order to remain open, support their staff, and be ready to welcome tourists back once the lockdown is lifted.
The tourism sector contributed roughly R18,1 billion to our local economy in 2018 and supported just over 113 000 jobs, according to Statistics South Africa. This sector is vital to Cape Town’s economy and to the people who rely on it to put food on the table. My team and I will do all we can to support as many businesses in tourism and to help the industry on the road to recovery and readiness.
Issued by: Media Office, City of Cape Town