Government has agreed to provide the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) with reasons for maintaining the ban on cigarette and tobacco product sales under level four of the lockdown, notes Fin24.

The association had launched an urgent court bid for government to lift a ban on sales of cigarettes and tobacco products during lockdown and to have these products be deemed essential goods. The association also sought minutes of the meetings in which government made decisions pertaining to the sale of cigarettes, which is related to part A of its application which was to be heard today.

But in a statement issued last night, Fita said there would no longer be a need to argue part A of the application as it has been provided ‘a substantial portion of the relief’ sought.

Referring to the responding affidavit deposed by Co-operative Governance & Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma last week, Fita said that government had agreed to provide the ‘record of decision and the reasons for the promulgation of regulation 27 of the level four regulations as soon as reasonably possible’.

Fita said it would now focus on the relief sought in part B of our application – a declaration that the sale of tobacco products and cigarettes is lawful under the lockdown regulations.

No date for this hearing has been determined.

Full Fin24 report

However, this does not mean the minutes of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) meeting will be revealed.

These documents are ‘classified’, Dlamini-Zuma insisted in her affidavit.

A Times Select report says although the government appears to have made some concessions to Fita, the halting of today's court action still leaves South Africans in the dark on what was said at the NCCC meeting during the discussion around the sale of cigarettes.

In the second part of its application regarding the tobacco ban, Fita describes the ban as ‘sudden and ill-considered’, saying millions of citizens will have their physical and psychological health and welfare negatively impacted by the decision.

The decision, says Fita’s chairperson, Sinenhlanhla Mnguni, was taken ‘without regard for the far-reaching traumatic effects flowing from the withholding of these products’.

Full Times Select report