Smoking ban: AfriForum serves lawyer’s letter on Dlamini-Zuma
27 May 2020
The civil rights organisation AfriForum today served a lawyer’s letter on the Minister of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, in which the Minister is informed that the organisation will take further legal action if the smoking ban isn’t lifted. This ban refers to the sale of tobacco products that are currently illegal. The letter was also served on the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize.
Ernst Roets, Head of Policy and Action at AfriForum, says that no rational basis exist for the smoking ban, and that government’s secrecy in this regard is tantamount to a violation of the public’s civil rights. Roets raises his concern about rumours that Dlamini-Zuma’s friends in the underworld deal in contraband cigarettes.
“AfriForum doesn’t fight for smoking; we fight for freedom: Freedom for the community to not be subjected to preposterous regulations,” says Roets.
In its lawyer’s letter, AfriForum requests the revoking of the decision to ban tobacco products. If the Minister does not reply sufficiently to AfriForum’s lawyer’s letter, the organisation will consider further legal action.
See lawyer’s letter below.
Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini-Zuma
Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
87 Hamilton Street
By email: [email protected]
Dear Minister Dlamini-Zuma,
RE: AFRIFORUM // MINISTER OF COOPERATIVE GOVERNANCE AND TRADITIONAL AFFAIRS – DISASTER MANAGEMENT ACT, 2002: PROPOSED AMENDMENT OF REGULATIONS ISSUED IN TERMS OF SECTION 27(2) (ALERT LEVEL THREE)
With reference to the above mentioned. We confirm that we act on behalf of AfriForum NPC (hereafter ‘our client’), a registered not for profit company and civil rights organisation with over 220 000 registered members.
Directors: WD Spies B Com LLB MBA (UP); JP Voges LLB (Unisa)
Associates: M van Schalkwyk LLB (UJ); DJ Eloff LLB (UP)
Consultants: JJ Hurter Dip Proc (UP); J du Toit Böning B Tech (TUT), BA LLB LLM (Unisa)
This letter is directed to the Minister of Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (hereafter referred to as the ‘Minister of COGTA’) as designated in terms of section 3 of the Disaster Management Act (No. 57 of 2002) to promulgate regulations regarding the state of disaster.
The purpose of this letter is to address our client’s concern regarding the continued ban and prohibition on the sale of tobacco, tobacco products, e-cigarettes, and related products.
In terms of the above-mentioned draft regulations “the sale of tobacco, tobacco products, e-cigarettes, and related products is prohibited”. Moreover, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on 24 May 2020 that the prohibition on tobacco products will continue during level three of lockdown.
Scant reasons have been forthcoming from government regarding the reasons, underlying data and supporting expert opinions that government has relief upon to still prohibit the sale of tobacco, tobacco products, e-cigarettes, and related products. Moreover, government has failed to provide rational substantiated reasons for its decision to continued the prohibition on the above tobacco items while it has admitted and conceded that the sale, dispensing or transportation of liquor is able to continued under alert level three.
Our client has reason to believe that the continued prohibition of tobacco products is irrational, unconstitutional, and unlawful based on the reasons and considerations that government has considered and the consequent conclusion to continue the prohibition of tobacco products.
In light of the above our client requests that the government and particularly the Minister of COGTA responsible for the issuing of regulations in terms of Section 27 of the Disaster Management Act, uplift the ban and prohibition on the sale of tobacco, tobacco products, e-cigarettes, and related products by 1 June 2020.
Should our client not receive a positive reaction by close of business 1 June 2020 it will be left with no other choice than to seek legal recourse to protect the interest of the public and to ensure transparency and rational decision making within the South African executive.
We, however, trust that litigation could be avoided and that the irrational, unconstitutional and unlawful prohibition of tobacco products be uplifted timely.
HURTER SPIES INC
Issued by Hesti Steenkamp, Media Relations Officer, AfriForum, 27 May 2020