The South African Communist Party (SACP) has condemned the criticism Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has been facing over the last few weeks on the decision to ban cigarettes while the alcohol sales ban was set to be lifted from Monday, 1 June.
SACP spokesperson Alex Mashilo said in a statement on Thursday: “Minister Dlamini-Zuma is being singled out from Cabinet and attacked for decisions that have been taken collectively by the national coronavirus command council (NCCC) and the cabinet.”
The party said that President Cyril Ramaphosa had consistently explained and clarified the matter of Cabinet decisions during the lockdown period.
“There can be no other conclusion than that the attacks on Dr Dlamini-Zuma are underpinned by dubious intentions. The agenda comprises a drive to project the cabinet as divided and pit the president against the minister or vice versa,” said Mashilo.
Mashilo said it was clear that attacks on Dlamini-Zuma in the media and on social media consisted of patriarchal and sexist attitudes and sought to project Ramaphosa as a weak leader.
“The SACP calls upon the alliance and all formations of our movement to close ranks and decisively confront and expose the attacks on Dr Dlamini-Zuma for what they are – a divisive agenda that seeks to weaken the entire ANC-led movement and divert government from leading the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Last week media reports said that Dlamini-Zuma had argued against the lifting of the ban on the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products during the meeting of the NCCC, producing research to back up her argument.
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema also defended Dlamini-Zuma saying the attacks on her because of the ban on the sale of cigarettes during lockdown and allegations of her ties to controversial businessman Adriano Mazzotti were “nonsensical and unacceptable”.
Malema said the minister’s “attitude” towards tobacco was “correct” and added the country should strive to be a cigarette-free society.
(Compiled by Molefe Seeletsa)