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Democratic Alliance v President of the Republic of South Africa and Others (Economic Freedom Fighters Intervening) (21424/2020) [2020] ZAGPPHC 237

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Democratic Alliance v President of the Republic of South Africa and Others (Economic Freedom Fighters Intervening) (21424/2020) [2020] ZAGPPHC 237

26th June 2020

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[1] This case concerns the manner in which government has designed a program of financial aid to designated businesses in response to the state of disaster declared in terms of the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002 (‘The Act’) This declaration took place following the invasion of the Covid-19 virus into South Africa, threatening untold physical, social and economic harm. The nationwide lockdown which followed the declaration of the state of disaster threatened the very fabric of the South African economy. Understandably, government sought to dispense funds to small businesses to assist their effort to ensure their survival during the lockdown.

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[2] The Minister of Small Business Development (‘the Minister)’ established two funds to provide financial relief to small, medium and micro enterprises; the Debt Finance Scheme (DFS) and the Business Growth Resilience Fund (BGRF).

[3] The DFS fund was designed ‘for businesses which are negatively affected, directly or indirectly due (to) the Coronavirus pandemic. ‘The scheme ‘is aimed at providing relief on existing debts and repayments to assist SMME’s during the period of the Covid-19 State of Disaster’.

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[4] The BGRF was designed for businesses geared to take advantage of supply opportunities resulting ‘from the Coronavirus pandemic or shortage in the local market’. This fund ‘is targeted at SMME’s that are manufacturing what could be considered essential goods’.

[5] The crisp question for determination in this case concerns the criteria to be applied when such funds are distributed to the designated targets. Reduced to its essence, the applicant contends that BBBEE status or criteria such as race, gender and disability cannot be used as a basis for a decision as to the recipients of distributions from these two funds.

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