Durban - ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte has slammed the tobacco industry, accusing it of plotting the downfall of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
Duarte made the allegations on a video clip that was posted on social media on Friday. This was in reaction to the ongoing attempts by the industry to force the government to lift a ban on the trade of cigarettes and other tobacco products.
Duarte said she was protesting against the attack on Dlamini Zuma “by what is clearly a well-orchestrated” by the tobacco industry.
She accused the industry of trying to drive the country into a deeper crisis during Covid-19 period “when we are facing a health crisis that attacks people’s respiratory organs”.
“Here is an industry who over years has exploited the health of many people across the world, and today they find it very easy to chain up petitions and ask people to sign and believe that is how one removes a minister of state.
“Well, as far as I’m concerned this woman, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, has done more for this country than the tobacco industry will do for any country anywhere in the world ever again rather than making people ill,” she said.
She then told the industry to back-off.
“Why don’t you allow us as a country, as a nation, to make a democratic choice and decide who we want as our leadership.
“And we have done so, we chose her. We certainly cannot be choosing the tobacco industry,” she said.
The Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) had for a while been threatening to go to court to force the government to lift the ban.
Last week, Fita withdrew its court challenge after government allowed it to manufacture and export tobacco products.
Police Minister Bheki Cele said during a press briefing on Friday afternoon that police would deal with anyone who will be found with cigarettes on the street, including in the car.
“If you say you have bought cigarettes, where is the receipt. We have got options, is to get you and go and get the person who sold the cigarette to you.
“Not just the sale, buying the cigarette is illegal, [and] until those regulations are removed, it would remain an offence to do that particular thing ,” he said.