- The government lied about the tobacco ban, says Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association
- The affidavit submitted by Dr. Dlamini-Zuma shows a discrepancy in the number of signatories
- The government's affidavit lists 2 000 submissions but FITA says there were only 1 897
The showdown between the government and Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA) over the ban of tobacco sales has taken another turn. FITA has accused the government of fabricating the number of complaints against the permission of the sale of cigarettes.
The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's affidavit mentioned that there were 2 000 complaints against the permission of the sale of cigarettes. However, FITA says these numbers do not reflect the truth.
FITA says only 1 897 submissions were made and from those, only 66.7% had to do with the tobacco ban. Fita said this discrepancy was concerning. The DA has called for disciplinary action against the COGTA minister.
Recently, FITA started an online petition to lift the ban on the sale of cigarettes and the petition had amassed 600 000 signatures. FITA believed this is massive compared to the small number supporting the ban.
Another petition by Mzwandile Masina, the mayor of Ekurhuleni, had gained the support of 30 343 South Africans.
FITA said countries such as the US and Italy had not banned the sale of tobacco, which shows that it is not a major factor. However, the US and Italy have nearly almost 2 million combined Covid-19 cases, with nearly 140 000 deaths.
FITA is not the only organisation fighting the ban on tobacco sales. British American Tobacco South Africa (BATSA) announced late in May that it was proceeding with urgent legal action against the government to challenge its decision to continue the ban on tobacco sales during lockdown level 3.
Briefly.co.za reported that BATSA is the latest in a long list of organisations taking the government to court.
The cigarette ban has been a very contentious issue. Dr. Dlamini-Zuma continues to maintain her stance that it is for the benefit of the people. FITA's case against the government will be heard on the 9th and 10th of June 2020.
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