Cigarette ban: Johann Rupert, Dlamini-Zuma heading for court battle

A firm within Johann Rupert's investment portfolio is gearing up to fight Dlamini-Zuma and other NCC members in court, regarding the cigarette ban.

Cigarette ban: Johann Rupert, Dlamini-Zuma heading for court battle

One of the richest men in South Africa could indirectly take on COGTA Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma next week, following the dramatic u-turn on cigarette sales that was announced on Wednesday. British American Tobacco (BAT), part of Johann Rupert’s investment vehicle, is ready to take the government to court.

Why Johann Rupert and Dlamini-Zuma could get tangled up in a court case

In a letter published by the company’s lawyers on Friday, they express their dismay at events that took place during a National Command Centre (NCC) briefing. Last week, President Ramaphosa confirmed that cigarettes would be allowed to return to the shelves during Level 4 of lockdown. But just a few days later, Dlamini-Zuma announced a surprise reversal of this policy.

That sparked a wave of public and political condemnation, which hasn’t yet been addressed by Ramaphosa. The NCC’s word became law earlier on Friday, and despite the launch of a petition and other legal challenges, this lawsuit from BAT blows everything else out of the water.

The purpose of the court papers

The court papers filed by the tobacco behemoth name Dlamini-Zuma, Police Minister Bheki Cele and Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nwakula as the respondents. They are the senior figures of the Command Centre, and both have already created their own share of controversy during the lockdown period.

However, according to what has been filed, the crux of the matter is the confusion caused by the government’s mixed messages: After Ramaphosa alerted the nation to a change in the cigarette laws, BAT made a huge order for 10 000 product deliveries. Dlamini-Zuma’s update then put the brakes on sales, costing the firm millions of rand.

Dlamini-Zuma, NCC facing deadline on cigarettes decision

Their lawyers argue that the reversal was “unfair and irrational”, and handed the government an ultimatum: They want the NCC to allow cigarettes and tobacco to be sold again before 10:00 on Monday 4 May – or BAT’s legal team will launch an application to appeal the contentious amendment.

We could be days away from a court showdown involving Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Johann Rupert – which is the sort of blockbuster entertainment we could all do with during lockdown:

Source : The South African More   

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Deadline looms for SAA employees to accept retrenchment agreements

SAA was placed under business rescue in December last year and received R5.5 billion in funding which has been exhausted

Deadline looms for SAA employees to accept retrenchment agreements

Workers at South African Airways have until the end of business day on Friday, 1 May 2020, to decide whether or not they’ll be accepting retrenchment packages that have been offered by the national carrier’s business rescue practitioners.

In a letter, the practitioners, Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana said the workers had until the said date to sign a section 189 termination of employment letter or there is no turning back for the troubled airline.

They also maintain there is simply no money available to carry on honouring the obligations of SAA to its employees beyond 30 April 2020

“Accordingly, the wind-down process is dependent upon employees accepting the termination of their employment timeously by mutual consent,” the practitioners said.

“Given the fact that the practitioners have no further funding, the practitioners have considered whether they can develop a business rescue plan which secures a better return for SAA’s creditors than would result from its immediate liquidation,” reads the letter.

“The lockdown remains in place and SAA has no funds to continue trading and cannot pay a significant salary bill beyond April 2020”

Economic cluster Chairperson: All avenues have to be examined

The chairperson of the economic cluster in parliament, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said regardless, the airline’s fate has not been sealed and a decision is still to be made by Cabinet.

“It is not yet finalised what will happen to SAA. Once we have looked at all the avenues we can decide on a strategy to present to Cabinet for a decision”, Kubayi-Ngubane said during a media briefing held by SA Tourism.

“Government continues to interact with unions in this regard after they (unions) raised questions on how the business rescue practitioners of SAA are conducting themselves”

“The BRPs are looking for more money from government but against the backdrop of the current environment we asked them to go back and look again at what they can do with resources available,” said the minister.

Numsa and SACCA threaten court action

At the same time, National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) have said they are prepared to go the legal route to keep their jobs.

“This is why as Numsa and SACCA, we are left with no option but to continue with legal action in order to apply for an application to remove the business rescue practitioners and we’re calling on government, particularly the Department of Public Enterprises in the interest of SAA, to join us in the application to defend the airline and turnaround the future of the airline and save jobs”, said Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola.

Source : The South African More   

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