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The Crazy World of Cannabis Politics: Health Minister Sends Representative to Receive Protest Memo at SAHPRA Offices; BFASA Refuse to Hand It Over!

BFASA didn’t believe Adv Mabalo was the real deal, SAHPRA says he was

The Black Farmers Association of South Africa (BFASA) is keeping its memorandum of cannabis demands against the South African Health Regulatory Products Authority (SAHPRA) to itself!  It led a protest march to SAHPRA offices this week but then refused to hand over its list of demands.

The organisation announced last week that it would march to SAHPRA’s offices on 19 October 2021 where it would hand over a memorandum of demands accusing SAHPRA of corruption and conflicting interests in the awarding of cannabis licenses. It wanted the Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaala to personally receive the memorandum. However, when protestors arrived at SAHPRA’s Pretoria head office on 19 October 2021,the Minister was not present but an Advocate Mabelo was. BFASA president Dr Lennox Mtshagi told Newsroom Afrika on 20 October 2021 that he did not want to hand over the memorandum to Adv Mabelo because he was “owned” by (SAHPRA chair) Dr Helen Rees and that he didn’t trust that allegations in the memorandum would be investigated. 

“We did not want to leak our evidence to someone who was not authorised by the Minister to come and take the document because we want the Minister to act” said Dr Mtshagi. The BFASA president said Adv Mabelo had admitted he was not directly from Minister Phaala’s office when they met at SAHPRA. 

But he was contradicted by SAHPRA CEO Dr Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela, who said that she had spoken personally to Health Minister Phaala the day before the March and that he was unavailable to receive the memorandum but would send Adv Mabelo, who was from the Department of Health. She said Adv Mabelo had informed protestors that he was representing the Minister and there was nothing much she could do it they didn’t want to hand over the memo.

 

BFASA want all existing cannabis licenses revoked on BEE grounds

Cannabiz Africa understands that one of the demands in the memorandum was that all licenses issued without following BEE processes, should be nullified. Dr Mtshigi accused SAHPRA of operating under the old “apartheid” Medicines Act and saying this did not take into account current empowerment legislation. Dr Semete- Makoketlela has said the Medicines Act was not an Apartheid act but was amended in 2017. She said as a regulating organisation, SAHPRA’s duty was to ensure consumer safety, product efficacy and quality and that policy matters around cannabis should be directed to the Ministers of Justice or Health, She told Newsroom Afrika that SAHPRA’s mandate was defined by the Medicines Act which “was silent on BEE”. She said SAHPRA’s legal representatives said if the organisation introduced BEE criteria into cannabis licensing decisions they would be going against the  very Act that defined them.  

Other demands known so far, include the dissolution of the SAHPRA board and the firing of its executive and chairman, Dr Helen Rees. 

We suggest that BLFASA email the full memorandum of demands to Minister Phaala. He’s already told the head of SAHPRA that he’s ready to listen. His email address is minister@health.gov.za.

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