The government said on Friday Cyril Ramaphosa fully supports the extension of the ban on the sale of tobacco products.
Jackson Mthembu, the minister in the presidency, tweeted that he was not undermined by his ministers.
Ramaphosa announced last Thursday that cigarettes may be purchased under Level 4 restrictions, but Dr. Cooperative government and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said on Wednesday it was still banned. She then announced the Level 4 regulations, which went into effect yesterday.
She says this is being done because the ban in 2,000 of the 70,000 public input on the Level 4 regulations was requested.
A wave of anger subsequently washed over the country via social media as smokers objected. Many suggested on Facebook that Dlamini-Zuma made the decision herself.
Ramaphosa’s political opponents again say his ministers seem to be ignoring his orders.
“The media reports are wrong,” Mthembu tweeted.
“The National Board of Governors has changed its opinion on the sale of level 4 tobacco products itself. The president fully agreed and endorsed the ban as a result of the consultation process. Any suggestion that the president has been undermined by his cabinet members amounts to falsehoods and it misleads the public. Obviously, some voters will say or use anything to get their way.”
British American Tobacco (BAT), meanwhile, is demanding that Dlamini-Zuma amend the relevant regulations before 10am on Monday. If not, he will go to court, a letter sent by law firm Webber Wentzel on Thursday on behalf of BAT.