Press release – FITA – for immediate release
The Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (“FITA”) wishes to laud the formation of the Black Tobacco Farmers Association (“BTFA”).
One of the main problems with the South African economy is that it remains largely untransformed and largely controlled by the same companies, institutions and people as in the past. If we as a country and a nation are to succeed and flourish, economic transformation must be a national priority.
The tobacco industry in its own right has been dominated by monopolistic, largely white and foreign capital for decades. Unfortunately, this relationship does not seem to have changed very much in the democratic era.
As an organisation we have for long advocated the necessity of transforming the local tobacco industry and have lobbied government in this regard.
The formation of the BTFA gives our members slight hope that the tide is slowly turning and the status quo may be shifting, particularly in light of the fact that our members were previously precluded, via a number of underhanded practices from multinationals, from buying tobacco from our local farmers.
One incident that springs to mind is when one of our members bought tobacco from a local farmer and, unbeknownst to them, the truck transporting the leaf was being monitored via the cameras of the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (“JMPD”)due to a particular multinational having Bosasa-esque influence over law enforcement agencies, and members of the JMPD were then used to stop the truck under false pretences of a road block, and to detain the stock on the basis that it was suspected to be marijuana. This was done merely to prevent the tobacco from being used by 1 of our members. Evidence of this and other forms of unlawful surveillance conducted on our members was revealed in 2016 via the so-called “tobacco leaks”.
Needless to say, farmers have been reluctant to engage our members out of fear of being victimised by the big boys via practices similar to the above, or merely having their commercial interests threatened by the multinationals who buy a substantial amount of locally produced tobacco.
Our 8 members jointly welcome the formation of the BTFA and herewith make a commitment to purchase tobacco from the members of the association, contrary to the views of the Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa who disingenuously seek to create an impression that our members refuse to procure tobacco from local farmers when they know full well that local farmers have been pushed into a corner and told not to supply our members with tobacco.
We will therefore be approaching the BTFA in this regard with a view to establishing a long-term relationship of equal benefit which will ultimately benefit the South African economy and our people.
Issued by the Fair-trade Independent Tobacco Association: 25 January 2019
For queries kindly contact Monique Vogel t: 072 720 7919; e: Monique@fita.co.za