"I am not Adriano Mazzotti's friend" - COGTA minister tells MPs

"I am not Adriano Mazzotti's friend" - COGTA minister tells MPs

- Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has denied being friends with cigarette smuggler Adriano Mazzotti

- A DA MP questioned Dr Dlamini-Zuma's stance on the tobacco ban after her alleged links to Mazzotti

- The sale of cigarettes on the black market is said to be costing the government R2.1 billion in excise duties

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Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has distanced herself from allegations linking her to self-confessed smuggler Adriano Mazzotti.

The minister denied having any personal relationship with Mazzotti after DA MP Cathlene Labuschagne had asked her about the nature of their relationship.

The DA MP said:

“Smoking continues but the industry has been taken underground. The only logical conclusion is that this is the sole aim of the cabinet and specifically the minister with regards to this ban"

Labuschagne said Dr Dlamini-Zuma is known to have visited Greece and the UK with Mazzotti, who also denies that him and the minister are friends. In the run-up to the 2017 elections for ANC presidency, revelations showed Dr Dlamini-Zuma posing with Mazzotti and an associate. The revelations showed the trio in pictures taken in Greece, London and Sandton.

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Her links to Mazzotti have since raised questions about her stance against the sale of tobacco during the Covid-19 lockdown period. It is reported that the state has lost just over two billion in excise duties due to the sale on cigarette on the black market.

Dr Dlamini-Zuma said:

"I must also put it on record: I am not Mazzotti’s friend. And secondly, if someone is doing crime in SA, they must be arrested".

Mazzotti, who allegedly donated funds to the EFF in order for them to be able to register for the 2014 elections, is said to have also funded Dr Dlamini-Zuma's 2017 ANC presidential campaign. In his own statement issued prior to Dr Dlamini-Zuma's questioning by the DA MP, Mazzotti denied having any relationship with the minister.

Dr Dlamini-Zuma, who has come under attack for her stance, said her views against allowing cigarettes are based on studies from China, the US and Oxford University.

Dr Dlamini-Zuma said:

"People who smoke do have problems with lungs, as we know, [and] if they do get the infection, they are more likely than the non-smokers to get a more serious disease."

The minister has also cited benefits of quitting smoking as issued by the World Heath Organization (WHO).

Briefly.co.za had reported that President Cyril Ramaphosa had announced that under level 3, alcohol would be allowed but not cigarettes because of the heath risks they pose

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Source: Briefly.co.za

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