The DA allege that Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma told South Africans lies about the cigarette sales ban.
They said she did this to fulfill her own pre-planned agenda.
The government only got 454 submissions in favor of the continued ban against cigarette sales.
Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma lied so that she could continue with the ban against the sale of cigarettes and “President [Cyril] Ramaphosa has no option but to fire her from his Cabinet”, the DA has claimed this in her latest statement.
The party says Dlamini-Zuma’s responding affidavit in the court legal fight which the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA) lodged, does not match with the statements she made on 29 April when she addressed the country.
In her national address, Dlamini-Zuma suprised the country when she announced that the cigarette sales ban would continue in Level 4, after President Cyril Ramaphosa at first showed that cigarette sales would be permitted on that level.
In a shocking about-turn on Wednesday, the government announced that a ban on the sale of tobacco products and cigarettes would go on from Friday when some Level 5 lockdown restrictions are relaxed.
Dlamini-Zuma said the decision to resume the sale of cigarettes was changed by Cabinet after they considered 2 000 public submissions in favour of the ban.
She argued that, while Covid-19 was actually a new disease, early studies cemented the view that using tobacco products not only worsened the risk of contracting the disease but also the risk of getting a more serious form of it.
“But her responding papers to a court challenge by the FITA paints a whole different picture. This 4 000-page response – clearly intended to ‘spam’ the court – included all the public submissions she could find to support her actions.
“Plus, it looks like, many had nothing to do with cigarettes or tobacco at all. And the real opposition to cigarette sales turns out to be just a fraction of what she had alleged,” DA interim leader John Steenhuisen said.
The DA statement added that the court papers showed that there were only 1 535 submissions and of these, 47.2% had nothing to do with cigarettes or smoking. There were 23.3% that were in support of smoking and only 29.6% supported the ban.
This allegation was also made by FITA, following Dlamini-Zuma’s claims in the affidavit.
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“This amounts to just 454 submissions. Clearly, the minister was lying to South Africans in order to obtain her own pre-planned agenda,” Steenhuisen said.
FITA served the government with court papers during the beginning of May to challenge the government s decision to keep the ban on the sale of cigarettes and tobacco product sales under Level 4 of the lockdown.
When SA shifts to Level 3 of the nationwide lockdown starting from next month, cigarettes will still be banned.
British American Tobacco South Africa has joined the fight against the government’s regulation, saying that it will start urgent legal proceedings to challenge the government’s decision to increase the ban on tobacco sales during Level 3 of the nationwide lockdown.
“But the fact that Minister Dlamini-Zuma took the decision to make up a number of alleged supporting submissions and then lie to the people of South Africa in her briefing, should be used to suspend her immediately from her position. If the president wants to look for some credibility for government’s response to this crisis, he cannot allow her to avoid accountability on this,” Steenhuisen said.