This groundbreaking study of the illicit tobacco trade in southern Africa explores how this trade supports organized crime, helps enable official corruption, and erodes state structures. A major feature of South Africa’s, and to a lesser extent Zimbabwe’s, political economy revolves around conflict—overt and covert, violent and non-violent—over who makes the most money from the illicit tobacco trade, who controls that trade, and how the state responds to it. This conflict now takes places in the midst of huge political transitions within the ruling parties of both countries.

The study maps the key dimensions of the illicit cigarette trade in Zimbabwe and South Africa, including the key actors, the pathways of trade and the accompanying ‘modalities’ of criminality, as well as other important dimensions of the illicit cigarette market in southern Africa. It identifies “good-faith actors,” primarily in South Africa, whose positions could be strengthened by policy and technical interventions, explores opportunities for such intervention, and assesses the practical solutions that can be applied to combat illicit trade and tax evasion in the tobacco industry.

The study should be of interest to those policymakers, experts, and the general public who want to expand their awareness of the nexus between this illicit trade in otherwise licit goods, official corruption, and organized criminal networks. 

The Illicit Tobacco Trade in Zimbabwe and South Africa

Download PDF
Share this article

Author

Simone Haysom

Simone Haysom is a Senior Analyst with the Global Initiative with expertise in corruption and organised crime, and almost a decade of experience conducting qualitative fieldwork in challenging environments.

Between 2010 and 2013, she worked for the Overseas Development Institute in London, researching urban displacement in the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa, and humanitarian policy in conflict zones. Before joining the GI, she worked as a freelance consultant, researching issues related to conflict, development and organised crime for organisations including Médecins Sans Frontières, the Institute for Security Studies, and the University of Cape Town. She is the author of The Last Words of Rowan du Preez: Murder and Conspiracy on the Cape Flats, published by Jonathan Ball, a non-fiction account of a murder case, conspiracy allegation and Commission of Inquiry into policing in a poor and marginalised neighbourhood in Cape Town. She has a Mphil in Geography (Environment and Development) from the University of Cambridge, where she was a Gates Scholar and last year was a Visiting Academic at the School of African Studies, at the University of Oxford.

In 2019, she will be researching the role of foreign organised crime groups in Africa.

Read more