The South African government has vowed not to back down on its decision to ban the sale of cigarettes.
“We are not going to change our approach,” Minister for the Presidency Jackson Mthembu, told the Sunday Times.
“There is no possibility of a midway agreement that accommodates them and us. We believe that it is the right thing to do. I don’t see any of us agreeing on the measures the other party has taken.”
Mthembu added that the government will make its case in court.
“We believe we have very good reasons.”
As part of South Africa’s lockdown regulations – including during level 4 – the sale of cigarettes is not allowed.
South Africa’s tobacco makers have given Co-operative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma an ultimatum to amend the regulations that prohibit the sale of tobacco products by Monday or face legal action.
Last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the sale of cigarettes would be allowed under Level 4 regulations, however, on Wednesday Dlamini-Zuma announced that the ban will remain in place.
British American Tobacco South Africa (BATSA) said in a statement it was “seeking urgent clarity on the decision-making process that led to the government imposing an indefinite ban on the legal sale of tobacco products.”
BATSA asked Dlamini Zuma to confirm that the regulation would be amended by Monday at 10 am, failing which they would “bring an urgent application to court”.
The Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) told Saturday Star that it was confident of overturning the ban, having decided to proceed with legal action after government’s backtrack.
Meanwhile, Shadrack Sibisi, chairperson of the SA Tobacco Transformation Alliance (Satta), which represents black emerging tobacco farmers, told the Saturday Star that the continued ban would impact more than 8000 workers and 30000 dependents.
“The tobacco industry contributes R36million a day in taxes and now 100% of tobacco sales will go to illicit dealers, they are running amok. We ask who is benefiting out of this?