The African National Congress (ANC) has again come out in defence of Co-operative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who's been on the receiving end of some backlash over her stance on the ban of tobacco sales.
While a number of activities will be permitted under level 3, selling cigarettes will remain prohibited – a decision which many attribute to Dlamini-Zuma.
In a statement, the ANC said the minister, who's also part of the party's National Executive Committee (NEC) were unwarranted as Dlamini-Zuma is merely fulfilling her duties as a cabinet member tasked with handling government response to the pandemic.
"…the attacks are not only persisting, but they have been intensified with the worst racist, sexist, misogynist comments posted on social media", said ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe.
Racist remarks against NDZ should be investigated
The ANC has also singled out a Facebook post which in addition to criticising Dlamini-Zuma over the cigarette ban, reportedly compares her to a baboon and has called on the South African Police Service (SAPS) and Human Rights Commission look into it.
"The ANC also calls on everyone of our members to be prepared to resist these vicious attacks on Comrade Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, not only by defending the dignity of our comrade on social media platforms, but also by bringing legal charges against those who indulge in hate speech", Mabe further said.
Dlamini-Zuma lying to South Africans
The Democratic Alliance (DA) have been one of NDZ's fiercest critics, accusing the minister of lying about the reason behind the prohibition of cigarette sales and called on Ramaphosa to fire her.
According to the party, Dlamini-Zuma exaggerated the number of those who supported the decision for the selling of tobacco to remain unlawful under the current regulations.
"But the fact that Minister Dlamini Zuma took the decision to make up a number of alleged supporting submissions and then lie to the people of South Africa in her briefing should be grounds for immediate suspension from her position, said DA leader John Steenhuisen.
"If the president wants to salvage some credibility for government's response to this crisis, he cannot allow her to evade accountability on this", Steenhuisen further said.
NDZ has primarily cited health reasons for the extension of the ban and referred to research which supports the decision.
"Smokers have higher ICU admissions, higher need for ventilation and a higher mortality rate than non-smokers", she said.