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Wine and cigarette industries to continue with court actions: what you need to know

17 August 2020 - 09:51 By Unathi Nkanjeni
The Southern African Agri-Initiative said the relaxation of the bans on alcohol and cigarette sales was 'too little and too late' for farmers.
The Southern African Agri-Initiative said the relaxation of the bans on alcohol and cigarette sales was 'too little and too late' for farmers.
Image: iStock / Miodrag Ignjatovic

The Southern African Agri-Initiative (Saai) and the Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) will persist with their respective court actions, despite the bans being lifted on alcohol and tobacco product sales.

On Saturday President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the bans would be lifted at midnight on Monday, along with the restriction on interprovincial travel when the country moves to level 2 of the lockdown.

Here is what you need to know.

'Too little, too late'

Saai, which represents 120 farmers in the wine and tobacco industry, said it will continue with its court case against government over the lockdown regulations.

The initiative's chairperson, Dr Theo de Jager, said the announcement of the relaxation was too little and too late for the farmers.

“Job losses have already resulted in a social crisis in the wine industry, where the loss of business is not only limited to the 2020 production year,” De Jager said in a statement.

“Overflowing cellars have no storage capacity in tanks and barrels, and have already notified producers they are unable to allocate 2021 quotas.  

“A farm cannot be closed down for a year, and very few farmers are able to survive two consecutive years’ loss of income or turnover,” he said.

Tobacco farmers are upset

De Jager said tobacco farmers and their workers are upset due to the cash flow crisis caused by the long ban on the sale of cigarettes.

“The arguments and information used by co-operative governance & traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in the court applications brought by Saai, British American Tobacco SA (Batsa) and others to justify the ban on selling cigarettes are far removed from the reality of a demolished value chain, where billions in state revenue have been lost and businesses, farming enterprises and job opportunities are unable to survive,” he said.

The case is set for Tuesday in the Gauteng high court.

De Jager said the initiative will continue with the court case because government shattered farmers' confidence “to such an extent that it will take a long time for investments to back new job opportunities again”.

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Fita to continue the fight

Fita chairperson Sinenhlanhla Mnguni said the association will proceed with its court action against the government, despite Ramaphosa lifting the ban on the sale of tobacco products.

On Saturday, the Supreme Court of Appeal granted Fita leave to appeal the dismissal of its challenge against the cigarette sales ban after the Pretoria high court refused the leave on the basis the case did not have reasonable prospects of success.

“As things stand, we will be continuing with the court case,” Mnguni told CapeTalk at the weekend. “There are a number of things raised in our application which we feel still have to be ventilated before the supreme court.”

'Ban should have never been implemented' 

Mnguni told Newsroom Afrika that the continuation of the court case was based on the fact that the ban should have not been implemented in the first place.

“In the event we move back to level 3, 4 or 5, we want the ban to be uplifted. That's one of the reasons why we will be continuing with our court application.”

FULL ADDRESS | Lockdown level 2 implemented

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