Image via: Jaco Marais / Gallo
Image via: Jaco Marais / Gallo
Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen, has come out guns blazing, for Cogta Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Steenhuisen said it appears as though she lied to South Africans in her justification for the continued ban on the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products.
Steenhuisen made it clear that if true, she should be fired.
“If this is indeed the case, then President Ramaphosa surely has no choice but to fire her [Dlamini-Zuma] from his cabinet,” he said.
On 29 April, in a televised briefing of the regulations for Level 4 of the lockdown, Minister Dlamini-Zuma claimed that government’s 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 the government at the time,” said Steenhuisen.
“In this briefing, the minister (Dlamini-Zuma) said ‘even in the public comments, there was quite a lot of opposition. More than 2 000 people opposed it.’ 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,” said Steenhuisen.
The DA leader, however, claims that court papers, by Dlamini-Zuma, in response to Fair Trade Independent Tobacco, says something completely different. In fact, many things had nothing to do with cigarettes or tobacco.
“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,” he said.
Steenhuisen says FITA’s findings do not match up to those of Dlamini-Zuma.
According to FITA — the applicants in the case — there weren’t more than 2 000 submissions attached as evidence. Instead, there were only 1 535 submissions and of these, 47.2% had nothing to do with cigarettes or smoking, 23.3% were in favour of smoking and only 29.6% supported the ban.
“This amounts to just 454 submissions. Clearly the minister was lying to South Africans in order to further her own predetermined agenda,” said Steenhuisen.
“The question is when the minister Dlamini-Zuma said on live television that government ‘took that into consideration, debated the matter, looked at it’, was she implicating the rest of the National Command Council in this lie, or did she herself deceive her cabinet colleagues?” he asked.
Steenuisen maintained that either way, this conduct renders Dlamini-Zuma wholly unfit to occupy the position of a cabinet minister.
Steenhuisen said 2 000 or 454 people writing in support of the ban has never been the basis for the formulation of any other lockdown regulations.
“Had the president himself not assured South Africans mere days earlier that cigarettes would go back on sale under Level 4, the submissions opposing the ban would most likely have dwarfed any support,” he said.
“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 grounds for immediate suspension from her position,” he added.