The Transvaal Agricultural Union (TAU SA) has pres. Cyril Ramaphosa requests the appointment of a judicial commission to investigate the illegal trade in cigarettes. The buying and selling of tobacco products are still prohibited amid isolation regulations that are systematically relaxed.
TAU SA said in a statement on Wednesday that the confusion last month after the government initially said the ban on tobacco products would be lifted just to indicate later that it was not, has now fueled speculation that members of the National Board of Inquiry are in the illegal trade of cigarettes on the black market.
The black market has flourished in the last few months since the ban on tobacco products was introduced.
“It is in the interest of South Africa and those involved to launch an urgent and decisive investigation to expose any illegal acts,” Louis Meintjes, president of TAU SA, said in the statement.
Meintjes says the ban on buying and selling tobacco products serves no purpose as smokers simply turn to the black market to buy cigarettes. “The only people who benefit from the situation are those involved in the illegal cigarette trade,” Meintjes added.
The South Africa Tobacco Transformation Alliance (SATTA) also believes that politicians benefit from the ban. “It is a political power play and abuse of the government process to undermine the constitutional rights of the legal tobacco industry and adult consumers,” Ntando Shadrack Sibisi, chairman of SATTA and a tobacco farmer from Mpumalanga, said in a statement on Wednesday.
Sibisi and Meintjes agree that it is time for the government to play open cards on high-profile individuals in politics’ links with illegal tobacco traffickers.
“Let’s follow the money. Let’s see who has benefited financially from the ban on cigarettes and who they are affiliated with so that the people of South Africa can understand the real motives behind the ban on cigarette sales during the seclusion, ”Sibisi said.