If Dlamini-Zuma Lied About Cigarette Ban She Should be Fired, Says DA

The Democratic Alliance says Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma apparently lied to South Africans when she justified the continued ban on the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products, and if she did she deserves to be fired.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma briefs the nation on changes made to regulations governing the extended COVID-19 lockdown.

The DA said in a statement today that in court papers responding to a challenge to the tobacco ban by the Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association, the evidence submitted did not at all substantiate what she had said to the public on television. While she claimed that 2,000 people supported the ban in their submissions, there were only 454 such supporters in the court papers.

In a televised briefing of the Level 4 lockdown regulations, the minister claimed the decision to prohibit the sale of tobacco products was partly based on “more than 2,000” public submissions supporting such a ban. These alleged submissions formed part of 70,000 public submissions made to government at the time.

She went on to say that government “took that into consideration, debated the matter, looked at it, and decided that we must continue as we are when it comes to cigarettes, tobacco and related products, and that we should not open up the sale of these products.”

But, the DA noted today, her responding papers to a court challenge by FITA painted an entirely different picture.

“This 4,000-page response – clearly meant to ‘spam’ the court – included all the public submissions she could find to support her actions. Plus, it seems, many that had nothing to do with cigarettes or tobacco at all. And the actual opposition to cigarette sales turns out to be a mere fraction of what she had claimed.

“According to FITA … there weren’t more than 2,000 submissions attached as evidence. Instead there were only 1,535 submissions and of these, 47.2 percent had nothing to do with cigarettes or smoking, 23.3 percent were in favour of smoking and only 29.6 percent supported the ban. This amounts to just 454 submissions. Clearly the minister was lying to South Africans in order to further her own pre-determined agenda.

Whether Dlamini-Zuma implicated or deceived the rest of the National Command Council by saying this, it “renders her wholly unfit to occupy the position of a cabinet minister, and particularly one with such sweeping powers under the Disaster Management Act.”

“(T)he 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 grounds for immediate suspension from her position. If the president wants to salvage some credibility for government’s response to this crisis, he cannot allow her to evade accountability on this.”