Dlamini Zuma insists on tobacco ban, denies friendship with Mazzotti
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Johannesburg - Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Dr Dlamini Zuma has denied being friends with cigarette trader Adriano Mazzotti.
Dlamini Zuma was briefing Parliament's National Council of Provinces on Tuesday.
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. An MP asked her to justify the move and questioned whether the government was motivated by possible links to the cigarette smuggling underworld in insisting on the ban.
Dlamini Zuma denied this and said tmany health benefits motivated the ban on the sale of tobacco. She cited there was research which could back this decision. She also used her response to deny links to Mazzotti.
Mazzotti is cigarette trader who has been accused of being part of the criminal underworld that smuggles cigarettes into the country to avoid paying taxes.
Rumours of Dlamini Zuma's links to Mazzotti appeared in 2017 ahead of the ANC elective conference. She had been accused of being friends with Mazzotti and financially benefiting from the alleged friendship.
"I must put it on record, I am not Mazzotti's friend and secondly if anyone is doing crime in South Africa they must be arrested for whatever crime it is... They must be arrested," she told MPs.
The continued ban of tobacco products has led to outcries from some sections of society especially as alcohol will be allowed to be sold under level 3 of the lockdown.
The government is currently facing court action from an organisation called the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita). The organisation is asking the court to test whether the government had rational reasoning in continuing the ban on the sale of tobacco products. The government has been ordered to hand over documents to Fita by Tuesday afternoon spelling out the reasoning behind the continued ban.
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