Batsa questions indefinite tobacco ban

Says Dlamini-Zuma’s action is ‘bizarre and highly irregular’.
Dlamini-Zuma speculates that poorer people who share cigarettes will be more likely to pass the virus to each other. Batsa believes this is wrong in both law and in science. Image: Jairus Mmutle, GCIS

British American Tobacco South Africa (Batsa) has requested urgent clarity on the decision-making process that led Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to announce an indefinite ban on the sale of tobacco products.

The government has been given until 10:00 on Monday (May 4) to respond, failing which Batsa will bring an urgent application to court.

Various political parties, trade unions, businesses, industry associations and other interested parties had made submissions on the tobacco ban during the Level 5 lockdown. The government had purportedly taken these into consideration prior to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address to the nation on April 23, wherein he announced the lifting of the ban under Level 4, effective from May 1.

The president further announced that his National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) ministers would outline the regulations and directives to support and transpose the national transition to Level 4, which included the sale of tobacco products.

Watch or read: LIVE ARCHIVE: President on reopening the economy after lockdown

On the president’s announcement of the lifting of the tobacco ban, Batsa commenced preparing for the resumption of sales.

About-turn

Less than a week later, however, there was a complete about-turn when Dlamini-Zuma on April 29 proclaimed an indefinite tobacco ban, based on some 2 000 submissions via a public consultation process requesting a continuation of the ban.

Dlamini-Zuma said that some 70 000 submissions had been received across a variety of topics, including 20 000 related to exercise.

This begs the question: if the president’s announcement was arrived at under the established agreed-upon criteria pertaining to Level 4, how did Dlamini-Zuma arrive at a different outcome?

Batsa is of the opinion that Dlamini-Zuma’s action is “in itself, bizarre and highly irregular, principally because she did not give the tobacco industry, retailers, tobacco consumers and others supporting the lifting of the ban the opportunity to comment on the proposed reinstatement of the ban”.

“This was grossly unfair and unlawful.”

According to Batsa, within 24 hours of Dlamini-Zuma’s statement, some 400 000 people had supported a public petition seeking the lifting of the ban on cigarette sales, somewhat dwarfing the 2 000 who had allegedly previously made submissions in support of the ban.

‘Impossible’ not to draw conclusions

Batsa is of the view that: “It is impossible not to conclude that this hastily announced and ad-hoc ‘second consultation’ was, from its inception, designed to deliver a completely pre-determined outcome and provide the veneer of ‘cover’ for a decision, made elsewhere, to reverse President Ramaphosa’s correctly announced decision to relax the restrictions on the sale of tobacco products under Level 4 of the government’s Risk Adjusted Approach.”

In her announcement, Dlamini-Zuma speculated that poorer people who share cigarettes would be more likely to pass the virus to each other.

This, in Batsa’s view, is wrong in both law and in science, and would in any event not be possible if the government’s social distancing guidelines were adhered to.

Millions to the fiscus already lost

According to Batsa, R13 billion was paid to the government in the form of excise, corporate, income and other taxes in 2019. Furthermore, the company supports more than 10 000 jobs across the country. It also purchases 90% of all tobacco leaf produced in South Africa by farmers in provinces including Limpopo, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

During a virtual meeting on April 30, South African Revenue Service (Sars) Commissioner Edward Kieswetter advised parliament’s finance, appropriations and public accounts committees that the loss on excise duties on cigarettes for the month of April will be just under R300 million. Batsa puts the loss at R36 million a day.

Encouraging the illicit market

Kieswetter is also of the opinion that the banning of the sale of tobacco products will encourage the illicit market. This view is supported by the Human Sciences Research Council, which published research showing that illicit cigarettes had been widely available during the Level 5 lockdown.

No taxes are paid on the sale of illicit cigarettes.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has publicly stated that legal cigarette sales should resume under Level 4 of the lockdown.

Batsa has requested Dlamini-Zuma to amend the latest version of the regulations promulgated in terms of the Disaster Management Act of 2002 (being those dated April 29, 2020, published on page 3 of Government Gazette No 43258 of the same date), by the deletion of paragraph 27 in terms of which the sale of tobacco, tobacco products, e-cigarettes and related products is prohibited, and including them as permitted goods in Part E of Table 1.

‘No evidence’

Batsa acknowledges that there are risks associated with the smoking of cigarettes, “but there is no evidence that connects smoking with an increased chance of contracting Covid-19”.

The government recently tweeted: “Using tobacco products can increase your chance of getting #Covid19. Health experts have also warned that smokers with Covid-19 likely suffer more serious conditions that could lead to premature death.” 

It is a moot point that the regulations introduced under Covid-19 should be justifiable within the parameters of the aims of the National State of Disaster and assist in containing the spread of Covid-19. The government’s credibility may rest on the peer-reviewed scientific data backing this up being made publicly available.

Read: BAT South Africa urges government to lift cigarette sale ban (published April 4)

Barbara Curson holds shares in Batsa.

Barbara Curson visited the British American Tobacco Kenya tobacco plant in 2019, at their cost, to observe the workings of the ‘track and trace’ system for tobacco products.

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This is a very, very simple case. Did a self-admitted tobacco smuggler fund the minister’s campaign for the presidency, as reported by The Times in 2017? If the self-admitted cigarette smuggler did so, and the minister has not denied it to date, she cannot make any fair decision in the matter, and there is a gigantic conflict of interest, if not downright corruption, at play here. Let’s hope this scandal gets aired in the court case. I’d enjoy nothing more than seeing the minister squirm, trying to explain this one.

Prepare yourself, in fact brace yourselves

Cyril will soon be history!

They’ve already decided who is replacing him..

This is a game and we’re the pawns!

We’re all being played.. !!

I agree. For the fools who don’t think there is an internal war within the ANC, look a bit closer.

Ramaphosa and Mboweni have had to backtrack on a number of issues this year. Dlamini-Zuma is now calling the shots. She was Ramaphosa’s main rival for leadership of the ANC. She was Zuma’s (and obviously his buddies like Magashule and Mabuza and Duarte) favourite to take over so that his rapacious looting could continue.

Dlamini-Zuma’s funder in her campaign (and obviously still) is Mazzotti. Mazzotti is a big cigarette smuggler in SA. His business is booming during lockdown.

Don’t think the ANC doesn’t bow to the highest bidder. (And for that matter the EFF whose CIC is also funded by Mazzotti)

Very true….

Perhaps Cyril was always the puppet ….just didn’t know it

Nkosazana Zuma is making a fortune out of this lock down

Concern for the populace was never a thought

Hint as to who it will be. Since Madiba, each new President has been has been appointed from the deputy spot. Good luck.

NONE of them are innocent. There are NO honourables or heroes in this bag of power-drunk oppressing self-centred, self enriching, trough shouting fleabags. None at all.

So who is the Boss.. Cyril or that Nkosazana? Anyway you cant smoke because it spreads C19, but sex is okay and it spreads HIV, and oh yes, it causes children that you can’t afford. And sugar is taxed for its health issues. We all being played.

CR backs down to be subservient to NDZ’s unauthorised statement to the nation. That tell all of us ALL about who’s still in charge, still looting the State.

Unfortunately, for good reason, no one has confidence in the Zuma’s. Since the company they/she keeps is rather, disgraceful and alarming. Very convenient to ban a product, that her campaign contributor sells. I just wish, Mr. Rhamaphosa can grow a backbone. Note: I am a CR fan, but my patience with him is running out since I see him to be a weak leader (over and over and over). Introducing lockdown measures is not being a leader. A leader takes the necessary steps and puts his country first. Get rid of these corrupt politicians who are nothing better than cockroaches. I can’t believe I support a politician who was vice-president during the biggest looting exercise in history. Maybe CR is too scared due to skeletons. I hope Mr. President – You read this.

There cannot be a logical explanation for the irregular implementation of ad-hoc measures after arbitrary decisions have been made by irresponsible and unaccountable sociopaths of low intellectual capacity.

There is no ethical way in which to wage war. You cannot bomb a community in an ethical manner. For the same reason, there can be no logical explanation for the inexplicable acts of irrational stupidity that is called lockdown. This is Central Planning fascist dogma, and therefore, per definition, irregular and illogical.

Beating the drum again re ‘isms’. Interesting that there have been around 94 countries with lockdowns since the beginning of March. I suppose that half the world has governments made up of “irresponsible and unaccountable sociopaths of low intellectual capacity” that practice “Central Planning dogma”. Keep at it, maybe you will one day rise and endow our beloved land with your intellect.

One word. SWEDEN.

Then. Please explain to me how those people who have been adhering to the most secure lockdown measures possible, all test positive for the virus. Nearly all of the inmates in the USA prison system test positive but 98% show no symptoms.

I am proudly libertarian and individualist. Wear you pathetic little mask with pride my compatriot.

I wasn’t referring to the SA government in particular. I meant all politicians and so-called specialists who advocated lockdown, especially those at the WHO. One can only belong to one of two groups in this debate. You can either be a covid-denialist or an economic denialist, and I can tell you one thing with a great amount of certainty – economic denialists all die of hunger.

Whenever there’s no logical sense, look for a corrupt motive. It’s going to be there, these lazybones don’t get off their arses for the benefit of SA citizens, that you can be very sure of.

After identifying the corrupt motive, The next step is to just Follow The Money. You can be sure it’s STILL flowing to UAE accounts.

On a like for like basis 2000 veto/400 000 for votes and smokers are still disempowered….powerfull stuff the 0.5 % against votes

If we look at EWC, if the process were similar, then EWC got enough votes against the process not to proceed as well….

BTW i do not smoke , but the paradox just to compelling ..

One can only wonder if zuma herself has a vested interest in the illegal sales of cigarettes. Her reasoning is rather bizarre and 2000 votes (of 700 000) hardly makes for a compelling argument.

I have a suspicion that Edward is involved…….

NDZ should be sued or held accountable to this ludicrous decision in her personal capacity. Similar to a ruling against the Public Protector for her witch hunts, a judge should be able to order that NDZ pay a portion of the legal fees should this decision be overturned.

Also,just paid R1000 for a box of Heat cigarettes (pack of 10) that usually retails for around R350. Someone is definitely making a lot of profit whilst the consumer gets shafted, as usual.

This week I picked up a discarded Golden Leaf packet in the parking lot of what is now a Mall but used to be old man Rupert’s factory in Paarl…

Weird how the wheel turns

The ban is justified. Get over yourselves smokers and your nonsense. Cyril let the ban continue because he has a conscious (although he mislead his friend lol).

It’s not about the evils of tobacco. It’s about corruption and deceiving and lying to the SA citizens.

If the ban was legitimate, it would have been done long ago and not tacked onto the arbitrary (by decree, not by legal means) execution of the Disaster Management Act.

Basta!!!
Tobacco this, tobacco that.
all these people coming out here to complain like they care about poor people not having their smokes and puffs.
If they cared so much, how come there ain’t no grillrd pork ribs and mas potato truck at the nearest old age ho e with their name on it – helping out thhe people who really need help?

You know why? I’ll tell you why, bare with me here – am gonna have to explain. They truth is they real care nothing about poor people. Anybody who finish tell you that they are defending your right to slowly euthenise yourself with drugs, choke the life out of yourself, while they make siful amounts of money out of you, ain’t your friend or your human rights defender. Don’t get it twisted, they don’t care care you, never have, and never will.

So get it straight with these lobbyists acting like they are on your side. They’re worried thatif you smell fresh air too long, you may turn your back on this stupid self-euthenization program you’ve senselessly signed up for. Enough, already. stop the nonsense. Basta !

Cyril needs to stand up and keep to his word on this issue. Batsa will win this one and show just how illogical the stance of Dlamini-Zuma is.

I’m wondering about the illegal cigarette’s being sold now. My friend just bought a carton for R 1,000. So who’s really behind the illicit trading in illegal cigarettes? They are coining it.

Follow the corrupt motives and who make these rules. There’s your answer.

The stupidity is boundless.

KZN seems to have a particular problem. I mean they closed the promenade. Then a few hours later open it again. maybe someone with half a brain called?

The little premier in KZN wants to call the shots with what level Durban must be on? How is he qualified to do it when he clearly exposes his own health MEC to undue harm by placing her in the forefront of the fight against the virus? With a BMI of way over 40 she should self isolate as she fall in the most vulnerable category.

The harm this Zuma woman has caused is grave.

Have you seen what people go through with withdrawals?

What about all the people that lost their jobs or are not working in the industry.

Giving the criminal element a foothold in the market.

Loosing the country Billions in taxes?

These are not all medical issues and this woman should not be making these decisions. Especially coming from KZN.

Difficult. Definitions of IQ. In luck me may have answers on that with actions of fake humans. Thinking that what they do can stand model for it. Not realizing, tricking others, animals, do it all the time. Earth history gives a good picture of things to come when, blinded by greed, rules.

There seems to be evidence from France that less smokers are infected than non-smokers. Nicotine might be blocking the virus receptors?

Has this woman based her decision taking the SA situation for this into account?

Imagine the point that the government did not consult smokers and tobacco businesses regarding allowing smoking. If that could be the case, it would only be fair that the government should also consult drinkers and breweries about the sale of alcohol. Their petition would go much higher Than 400 000 signatures. Ungazo dlala apha

It has been said that she is well connected to the ringleaders of the illegal cigarette trade, and she is making money from stopping the legal trade of cigarettes by forcing smokers to choose the illegal route.

Isn’t the government bothered by the millions they lose in taxes from banning smokes and booze sales.

Nope lets rather introduce a “wealth tax” !
Its Bitcoin time !

No, because corrupt motives trumps altruistic motives, just like a poker hand with four aces of Spades trumps a bunch of well-intentioned pawns.

The emergency regulations were imposed to stem the spread of the Covid 19 virus. Preventing deaths on the roads or by any other means which involves alcohol by enforcing a no sale of alcohol is thus not a function of the committee overseeing the control of the virus and is thus unconstitutional. The same applies to the ban on cigarettes, as this will not prevent the spread of the virus.

Cyril Ramaphosa said one thing and his errant ministers Bheki Chele and the ex Presidents ex and caste off Dlamini-Zuma have committed a mini palace revolution by overriding their boss and he did nothing to stop them. Just who is the President. Has he lost control?

Leaving the economy up to ANOTHER Zuma?? Didn’t S A learn ANYTHING????

NDZ wields a huge amount of power, as does Bheki Cele (he is certainly more popular with the people and within the security cluster) – in fact it was back in 2013/14 that there was a faction starting to position Cele to be a possible presidential candidate for the next election, so far so good. As for NDZ people must remember that the only reason she is not president right now and the ZAR at 30+, is due only to a couple hundred votes and some very desperate last minute deals, temporary concessions and negotiations made to ensure the big corporate and ‘Worlds’ choice of CR was placed in power – the SA economy and big business were just not ready at that time for what that would have meant.

So what i am getting at, is that people see a CR led RSA and lets be honest have expected a lot from him, he has delivered absolutely nothing. He is just a mouth piece for Luthuli house and does what he is told. The real and genuine majority of our government are against ‘him’ and the Tito’s of this world – hence he is constantly blocked and hamstrung.

Beware the extreme draconian left within the ANC, inside which there is room made for the EFF – NDZ/ Cele/ Mkhize etc. Therein lies the real control and power of the country. ‘Allegedly’ those vehemently opposed to the lock down (am sure those of you that are informed will know who that is), for they knew what it would mean for the RSA people were swiftly crushed and swept aside, toe the party line or else.

It will be interesting to see how successful the BAT challenge will be. I believe the cigarette snub, serves 2 purposes. Firstly muscle flexing, showing those in any doubt who wields the power, lets be honest NDZ made CR look like an idiot. Secondly the illegal trade in cigarettes has exploded, literally every 3rd truck passing through Musina from Zimbabwe has 200-300 cartons in the sleeping quarters of the driver and they are religiously NOT searched, neither are the full 40` HC ctrs. This is no secret i am sure every smoker on this forum either has directly purchased Zim cigarettes or knows someone who has.

ad to your last sentence – or is involved in smuggling and/or illegal selling of them.

End of comments.

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