Industry slams poor planning for Tobacco Bill public hearings

Protesters demonstrating during the Tobacco Bill public hearings

Protesters demonstrating during the Tobacco Bill public hearings

Published Nov 27, 2023


South Africa Tobacco Transformation Alliance condemns the poor planning that has become a hallmark of public hearings on the Tobacco Control Bill over the past few weeks.

At Sunday’s hearings, in the Tshwane city centre, poor planning resulted in dozens of people being denied the opportunity to express their rejection of the bill and police had to be called in to control access to the venue.

As a result, members of the public – the vast majority of them clearly opponents of the bill – were told to fill in forms expressing their opinions.

The alliance criticised Sunday’s hearing saying members of the public were entitled to express their views, and to express them verbally in public hearings such as the one held on Sunday.

“Unfortunately, there has been a pattern of poor planning with these public hearings. Venue details have been released at extremely short notice, no translations have been provided of the proposed legislation, and Parliament has fallen far short of the requirements when it comes to publishing public notices informing people of the hearings,” it said in a statement.

“The victims of this poor planning are people who work directly in the industry and are directly affected by the Tobacco Control Bill: workers whose jobs are on the line, farmers whose future existence is in jeopardy, spaza shop owners whose livelihoods will be stamped out by the ridiculous requirements of the bill and consumers who could be turned into criminals if the legislation is passed.”

The organisation said it would have expected Parliament to have heeded repeated calls by the judiciary for public participation processes to be meaningful and genuine.

“We cannot avoid a perception, as we said in our media statement last week, that these hearings are an academic exercise, and that this process is merely ticking the public participation box – rather than giving the people of South Africa a genuine opportunity to comment on a bill which will have a fundamentally negative impact on so many their lives.”

The Mercury

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