Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) President Julius Malema has said that the attacks on Cooperative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini–Zuma because of the ban on the sale of cigarettes during lockdown and allegations of her ties to controversial businessman Adriano Mazzotti are “nonsensical and unacceptable”.
Malema was giving the red berets’ response to the announcement that the country would move to Level 3 lockdown on 1 June, opening up certain sectors of the economy.
The EFF leader said Dlamini-Zuma’s fight against tobacco “doesn’t start now”, adding that “it’s a principled stance that she has taken [and] we must support her”.
Malema said the minister’s “attitude” towards tobacco “is correct” and said South Africa should strive to be a cigarette-free society.
He pointed out that Mazzotti’s association was the one that had approached the courts in a fight against lockdown regulations banning the sale of cigarettes.
Malema said multinational companies such as British American Tobacco (BAT) would not approach the courts because the ban would ultimately be to their benefit as it would see smaller companies collapse.
He said BAT continued to sell in other countries.
“We don’t care whether you close cigarettes in South Africa. We actually don’t want cigarettes,” Malema said.
The EFF leader said some, including journalist and author Jacques Pauw, have said that there are no links between Dlamini-Zuma and Mazzotti.
Pauw’s book The President’s Keepers alleged that Mazzotti contributed toward’s Dlamini-Zuma’s 2017 ANC presidential campaign.
Dlamini-Zuma has denied having a personal relationship with Mazzotti.