- Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has denied anything 'sinister' about the u-turn on cigarettes
- The Cogta head also denied clashing with President Cyril Ramaphosa over this issue
- This comes as FITA heads to court in an attempt to overturn the current ban
Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has insisted that there is 'nothing sinister' about the government's decision to extend the ban on tobacco products.
The Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister filed an affidavit against of a court battle between the government and the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association over the extension.
The case is a separate action to the proposed case that was later withdrawn by the British American Tobacco South Africa group.
Briefly.co.za reported that the nation's largest manufacturer had opted to drop its case, saying that it was confident it would be able to find a way forward with the government.
FITA aims to compel the state into reintroducing the sale of tobacco under Level 4, seeking to have cigarettes and similar products declared permitted goods.
Dlamini-Zuma and President Cyril Ramaphosa have both denied any ill intentions over the sudden u-turn, with the minister commenting in an affidavit that.
"For present purposes, however, I emphasise that the decision to promulgate the regulation was taken after careful consideration, not only of the submissions received, but also the relevant medical literature. It also is a decision that was endorsed by the NCCC [National Coronavirus Command Council] and Cabinet, before the regulations were promulgated."
The minister also insisted that her and the president were not at odds over the controversial issue.
"After the President's initial announcement was made, further consideration was given to the issue in the light of submissions received and medical evidence - and a different position ultimately adopted. There is nothing sinister in a change of position following a consultative process: in fact, the very nature of consultation is that change may result."
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