Tobacco industry makes people sick: Jessie Duarte backs Dlamini-Zuma

22 May 2020 - 22:30
By ZINGISA MVUMVU
ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte has come to the defence of minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma over the ban on the sale of smokes. File photo.
Image: Daylin Paul ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte has come to the defence of minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma over the ban on the sale of smokes. File photo.

ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte has launched a scathing attack on the tobacco industry.

This while defending minister of co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Duarte has accused the tobacco industry of being synonymous with making people sick through its products. But on the other side, said Duarte, Dlamini-Zuma had done a lot for the progress of this country.

The move by Duarte comes amid reports that Dlamini-Zuma was mobilising her Covid-19 national command council colleagues to throw their weight behind a continued ban on the sale of cigarettes and alcohol until level one of the lockdown.

Dlamini-Zuma was also suspected to have been behind the government U-turn on the sale of tobacco products when the country moved to level four, after President Cyril Ramaphosa had initially announced that cigarettes would be sold.

As the minister of Cogta, Dlamini-Zuma is constitutionally empowered under the Disaster Management Act to sign off on the lockdown regulations.

But Duarte said attacks on Dlamini-Zuma were unwarranted.

“I wish to protest against the attack on minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma by what is clearly a well orchestrated tobacco industry trying to make sure we are driven into a deeper crisis during a period when we are facing a health crisis that attacks people's respiratory organs,” said Duarte.

“Here is an industry who over years have exploited the health of many people across the world. And today they find it easy to chain up petitions and ask people to sign and believe that is how one removes a minister of state.”

An online petition calling for the removal of Dlamini-Zuma had garnered more than 116,000 signatures by Friday night — less than 24 hours since it was launched.

The petition seems to be the one that irked Duarte's reaction.

“As far as I am concerned, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has done more for this country than the tobacco industry will do for any country anywhere in the world other than making people ill,” Duarte went on.

“So why don't you back off and allow us as a country and a nation to make a democratic choice and decide who we want as our leadership? And we have done so, we chose her [Dlamini-Zuma] and we certainly cannot be choosing the tobacco industry.”