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'Govt can't just leave this, lives were lost while they tried to make profit'

15 September 2021 8:10 PM
Tags:
Robert Mugabe
SARS
The Money Show
Bruce Whitfield
BBC
British American Tobacco
BAT
Professor Lekan Ayo-Yusuf
Africa Centre for Tobacco Industry Monitoring and Policy Research
ATIM
tobacco trade

Bruce Whitfield talks to tobacco control expert Prof. Lekan Ayo-Yusuf about a BBC investigation into British American Tobacco.
Image: Kruscha on Pixabay

A BBC report alleges that British American Tobacco (BAT) sabotaged and spied on rivals in South Africa and Zimbabwe.

It says a South African company called Forensic Security Services (FSS) was used for illegal surveillance of these rivals.

According to the investigation, BAT even paid a bribe to Zimbabwe's ex-president Robert Mugabe.

Former Sars executive and 'Tobacco Wars' author Johan van Loggerenberg told CapeTalk he expected nothing less than denials from BAT, delivered in responses crafted by their lawyers and PR people.

RELATED: JSE-listed BAT paid a bribe to Robert Mugabe, sabotaged competitors – BBC

Bruce Whitfield gets some insight from Professor Lekan Ayo-Yusuf, Director of the SA-based Africa Centre for Tobacco Industry Monitoring and Policy Research

It's true that where there is smoke, usually there will be fire says the tobacco control expert.

This has been documented well before now in scholarly literature in terms of the trans-national tobacco companies trying to gain market share by all means necessary...

Prof. Lekan Ayo-Yusuf, Director - Africa Centre for Tobacco Industry Monitoring and Policy Research

... so it was rather more shocking to see the complexity of those that were used for the southerners and the fact that state security was allegedly used for this purpose.

Prof. Lekan Ayo-Yusuf, Director - Africa Centre for Tobacco Industry Monitoring and Policy Research

He says the leaked documents used in the BBC report do give some credibility to the story.

I watched the Panorama programme... The case heard in 2015 gives some credibility... clearly from that case BAT realised that they were losing market share to low-price cigarettes and there was an attempt to regain the market share... local manufacturers came into the market post-2000...

Prof. Lekan Ayo-Yusuf, Director - Africa Centre for Tobacco Industry Monitoring and Policy Research

Government itself is an interested party in this matter Whitfield notes.

The bottom line is that the government cannot just leave this without doing more investigation to actually confirm what has really happened because many lives were lost while they were trying to make profit.

Prof. Lekan Ayo-Yusuf, Director - Africa Centre for Tobacco Industry Monitoring and Policy Research

Another problem that government has got is that it's very short of revenue, and after tobacco bans and other restrictions on trade we've seen the huge illicit trade in cigarettes boom at the expense of the likes of British American Tobacco who are significant contributors to the fiscus through excise duties...

Bruce Whitfield, The Money Show host

The government needs to understand the whole purpose of tobacco control and the most effective intervention, which is putting up the excise tax so that people don't continue to smoke... The ultimate goal is to eventually get people to go off smoking...

Prof. Lekan Ayo-Yusuf, Director - Africa Centre for Tobacco Industry Monitoring and Policy Research

When people stop smoking they can spend that freed-up money on something else, which will eventually also benefit government coffers through tax revenue he says.

Listen to the discussion on The Money Show:


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : 'Govt can't just leave this, lives were lost while they tried to make profit'




15 September 2021 8:10 PM
Tags:
Robert Mugabe
SARS
The Money Show
Bruce Whitfield
BBC
British American Tobacco
BAT
Professor Lekan Ayo-Yusuf
Africa Centre for Tobacco Industry Monitoring and Policy Research
ATIM
tobacco trade

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