Dlamini-Zuma ready to defend govt's decision on cigarette sales ban

In her answering affidavits on the matter, Cogta Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said that the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) had failed to make a case as to why it should be privy to the details of command council decisions.

Cooperative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Picture: @NationalCoGTA/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said that she was prepared to defend the government’s decision to ban the sale of cigarettes.

This after the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) abandoned part a of its court application seeking clarity on the manufacturing of tobacco products and for the State to hand over minutes and records of meetings of the command council.

In her answering affidavits on the matter, Dlamini-Zuma said that the association had failed to make a case as to why it should be privy to the details.

The association wants the government’s decision to ban the sale of cigarettes reversed.

In her answering affidavit to the first relief sought by Fita in its court application, Minister Dlamini-Zuma stuck to her guns over the command council’s authority to draft and implement regulations governing the lockdown.

She further defended the command council, saying that it was a Cabinet structure.

This means that Fita’s application to be furnished with the minutes of the council’s meetings when the decision was made pertaining the sale of cigarettes is now void as Cabinet minutes are privileged.

The council, however, does agree to provide a record of the decision to promulgate Section 27 of the National State of Disaster Act.

Dlamini-Zuma also revealed that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s now-reversed statement that cigarettes sales would be allowed was based on the view of the national council at that particular time.

However, after South Africans submitted input on the risk-adjusted strategy, cigarettes fell out of the essential and permitted goods list.

She further stated that the decision was taken after careful consideration backed by public submissions received and medical literature.

In part B of the application, Fita wants, among others, an order declaring that cigarettes and tobacco products are "essential goods".

The matter is likely to be heard next month.