Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has backed down on what she calls the embodiment of collective decisions taken by the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCB).
Dlamini-Zuma spokeswoman Mlungisi Mtshali responded to the NCB’s extension on Sunday of the ban on tobacco and cigarette sales when Level 3 of the restriction comes into effect nationwide on June 1.
Without going into what Dlamini-Zuma’s position on the issue is, Mtshali said that debates in the council may be held on issues, but that the ultimate decisions taken are those of the majority of individuals in the council.
“Whatever is discussed within the council, there will be differences of opinion and whatever decisions are made is the view of the majority,” Mtshali said.
Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa told the country on Sunday that from 1 June South Africa will move to level 3 of the national restriction.
Ramaphosa has announced that tobacco sales will be prohibited, but that beverages may be sold for home use from Monday to Thursday. Tobacco has been banned since March 26, when the restriction began.
Last week it was reported that Dlamini-Zuma, supported by dr. Interior Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and formerly Health Minister supported the ban on cigarette sales because of the health risks associated with it.
This was against the backdrop of business organizations that threatened legal action against the government after the government failed to live up to its promise that the ban on tobacco products under Level 4 would be lifted.
ANC women’s league chairman Bathabile Dlamini defended Dlamini-Zuma on Monday, saying the attacks against her were unsolicited.
“We’re not happy about that. It shows a lack of commitment, it shows a lack of understanding about the harm that can be done to smokers and those who do not smoke.
“Some people don’t want us to be a developmental state, whose dedication is to the people rather than just a few read-outs,” Dlamini said.
Dr. Ralph Mathekga says that while Dlamini-Zuma’s position on the cigarette ban cannot be proven to be influenced by reasons other than health concerns, the ban bares the trading of tobacco products on the black market.
“The policy unintentionally strengthens the illegal trade in tobacco products. But, we can’t prove that it was intentional, ”Mathekga said.