British American Tobacco (BAT) in South Africa is demanding that Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, to amend the regulations prohibiting the sale of tobacco products during the state of confinement by Monday.
If that doesn’t happen, he’ll go to court.
Pres. Last Thursday, Cyril Ramaphosa announced a five-level risk-based approach to the state of containment and made it clear that cigarette sales would be allowed below level four, which took effect on Friday.
However, Dlamini-Zuma announced in a reversal on Wednesday that the ban on tobacco products and cigarettes remains.
She said this was done because 2,000 voted for it out of the 70,000 members of the public that were questioned.
“Our client is severely harmed by the ban on the sale of tobacco and e-cigarette products. This was greatly aggravated by the total turnaround on the abolition of the covenant, ”the lawyer’s letter states on behalf of BAT.
If the company does not receive confirmation from Dlamini-Zuma on Monday that the regulation will be amended, BAT will bring an urgent court application to review it and set aside it on grounds that it is illegal and irregular.
He argues that the regulation in question was imposed beyond the limits of the authority ( ultra vires ), is unreasonable, was included as a result of a co-intention and was reinstated without a fair process.
“With the ban on the sale of tobacco and e-cigarette products from the beginning of the state of restriction, our client began preparing for the lifting of the ban. In a very short period, more than 10,000 orders were received from retailers.
“The lifting of the ban was celebrated, not only by our customer, but by retailers and users across the country.”
Shortly after announcing the regulations under Level Four of the restriction, the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) said it would file an urgent court application against the government’s decision to continue the ban.
– BAT also said in a statement on Friday that it has paid a total of R13bn in various forms of tax in 2019, supporting more than 10,000 jobs in the country.
According to BAT, the Treasury also loses R36 million in revenue every day of the ban.