Using empowerment scores as criteria for assistance to distressed tourism enterprises — as tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has confirmed to be government’s intention — sends a disturbing message about what to expect in future.
It is debatable just how significant in practical terms the proposed R200m relief (and any future allocations) will be. Tourism is, after all, especially vulnerable to the Covid-19 crisis and will remain so for a long time to come. But that the assistance will be apportioned in line with race-based policy sends a profoundly important message — that ideological fixations still trump the imperatives of economic reconstruction.
It is a chilling response to hopes that the trauma of the Covid-19 pandemic would be the catalyst for a much-needed rethink and reset on economic policy. Race-based empowerment policy has long been a burden on business, for both domestic and foreign firms, while having performed questionably at opening up opportunities for new entrepreneurs and having unquestionably failed to spur desperately needed economic growth.
When the health emergency recedes, SA will need to go for growth with single-minded determination. It will need every ounce of entrepreneurial energy it can muster. The very stability of the country will be at stake if it does not.
That government seems intent on pursuing precisely the same policies that have handicapped the country in the past does not augur well for the future.
Terence Corrigan, Institute of Race Relations
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