'The attacks on minister Dlamini-Zuma are baseless, unfounded and border on malicious': Khusela Diko

Khusela Diko defends cooperative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Khusela Diko defends cooperative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Image: Twitter/Khusela Diko

President Cyril Ramaphosa's spokesperson Khusela Diko has come out in defence of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma after attacks levelled against her over the U-turn on the ban of cigarettes sales.

On Wednesday, the co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister made the surprise announcement that the ban on tobacco would remain in place when the country moved to level 4 lockdown.

Dlamini-Zuma backtracked on the initial announcement made earlier by Ramaphosa, citing several reasons that included health issues.

TimesLIVE reported that she came under fire and was criticised by many, including DA's leader John Steenhuisen, who accused Dlamini-Zuma of working with the alleged cigarette smuggler Adriano Mazzotti.

Finance minister Tito Mboweni also said he does not support the continued ban on cigarette sales.

Speaking on 702, Diko said the announcement made by Dlamini-Zuma was a decision that was approved by the cabinet.

Leaping to Dlamini-Zuma's defence, she said the attacks against Dlamini- Zuma are “baseless, unfounded and border on malicious”.

Diko said, during the process of public consultation, various stakeholders were against the lifting of the ban.

“The minister acts on behalf of a collective, the decisions she communicates are behalf of a collective which includes President Ramaphosa,” said Diko.

Diko said Ramaphosa announced draft regulations made by the national command council and those were not finalised.

“I don't think there is a difference of opinion in the cabinet. The decision that minister Dlamini-Zuma communicated was a cabinet decision,” she said.

Diko said the backlash stemmed from lockdown frustrations as people have been in lockdown for over five weeks.

“A lot of backlash, criticism and some of the litigation that is coming across is part of the vibrant and robust democracy that we have.

“People have been in lockdown for over five weeks and obviously frustrations are creeping in.”

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