PRETORIA, South Africa – AfriForum has served a lawyer’s letter on the ministers of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and Health requesting that the smoking ban be lifted by June 1.
According to the letter, addressed to Drs Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and Zweli Mkhize, if the ban is not uplifted next week, AfriForum will seek further legal action.
AfriForum’s head of policy and action, Ernst Roets, argued that there was no rational basis for the ban and prohibition on the sale of tobacco, tobacco products, e-cigarettes and related products.
He said government’s secrecy in this regard was tantamount to a violation of the public’s civil rights. He added that he was concerned about allegations that Dlamini Zuma was friends with cigarette trader, Adriano Mazzotti.
“AfriForum doesn’t fight for smoking; we fight for freedom: Freedom for the community to not be subjected to preposterous regulations,” he said.
In its lawyer’s letter, AfriForum requested that the decision to ban tobacco sales be revoked.
“If the Minister does not reply sufficiently to AfriForum’s lawyer’s letter, the organisation will consider further legal action,” Roets said.
On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that while the ban on the sale of alcohol will be uplifted from June 1, when the country moves into Level 3, the sale of tobacco products was still not allowed.
Since the announcement of the tobacco ban at the implementation of the lockdown, there were allegations that Dlamini Zuma and Mazzotti were friends.
On Tuesday, the minister denied the rumours.
She was asked by some members of Parliament about the government’s continued ban on the sale of tobacco products during level 3 of the national lockdown.
When asked by an MP to justify the move and questioned whether the government was motivated by possible links to the cigarette smuggling underworld in insisting on the ban, she denied this and said the decision was motivated by health benefits.
She cited there was research which could back this decision.