AfriForum has given Co-operative Governance Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma until the first of June to respond to its legal papers regarding the continued ban on the sale of cigarettes.

The pressure group want Dlamini-Zuma, who leads the National Coronavirus Command Council, to revoke the ban or face court action.

The move comes amid a public outcry over government’s decision to allow for the sale of alcohol and yet extend the ban on tobacco.

The Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association has also taken government to court over the matter and the Tobacco Transformation Alliance has called for an inquiry into alleged links between illicit tobacco traders and high profile politicians.

In the video below, illicit cigarette trade costs South Africa’s economy billions of rand:

AfriForum argues that the continued ban is unjustifiable and limits people’s basic freedoms.

“In our letter, we state that we regard this ban as irrational we are also very much concerned about wide-spreading rumours about the ministers alleged connections with people in the underground, who illegally sell tobacco products and so forth. We need an accountable government and we need a government that is able to make rational decisions. We regard these decisions as irrational and an unjustifiable limitation on people’s basic freedoms,” says AfriForum’s Deputy CEO Ernst Roets.

DA Member of the National Council of Provinces, Cathlene Labuschagne, has also slammed Dlamini-Zuma over the ban, saying it is odd that the illegal sale of cigarettes have been continuing while the sale of tobacco and cigarettes have been prohibited under the lockdown.

On Tuesday, Dlamini-Zuma defended government’s stance during a virtual briefing of the NCOP. She said health experts and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have warned that smokers who contract the virus could face serious problems. These include shortness of breath that would need ventilators for smokers who are infected with the virus.

In the video below, government retracts decision to allow the sale of tobacco products under Level- 4 lockdown: