Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa says the ban on cigarettes and tobacco-related products will be lifted someday, but he gave no indication of when that would happen.
He answered questions from ordinary South Africans asked him by a broadcaster on Wednesday evening at a so-called presidential imbizo.
The questions ranged from issues such as capital punishment and privatization to what Covid-19 symptoms all entailed.
Asked about when the government will lift the ban on cigarettes and tobacco-related products, Ramaphosa said the ban will not last forever and that it could be lifted as the country moves to lower containment levels.
Many smokers have been discouraged after the Supreme Court ordered last week to hear the application by British American Tobacco (Batsa) to invalidate the ban, only in August.
Yet, on another question, Ramaphosa justified the government’s decision to allow liquor sales again, although he added that there were many social side effects associated with the decision.
“The rationale was that certain activities could not be stopped forever so that our lives could go on with limitations. . . There was the abuse of alcohol that led to sexual violence, accidents, knife wounds and firearms fights, ”says Ramaphosa.
He said South Africans should not be frightened when they see on television and hear over the radio how Covid-19 infections and the death toll are rising over time.
“Our health system is relatively good. We are strengthening the system, although it can be challenged. Our death rate is still at 1.8%, while in other countries it is at 5%, ”he says.
He again emphasized that people should change their behavior to curb the pandemic. He says the government will repeat this message until it is blue.
“Wash your hands as often as possible. However, there are still many people who do not. People should care, not just for themselves, but for those they love, their colleagues and their fellow human beings. ”
Asked why the government does not want to privatize state enterprises, Ramaphosa says state enterprises play a key role in improving the lives of South Africans because the country does not yet have a developed economy.
“In South Africa we follow a mixed model, according to which the state and the private sector both control different parts of society.”
Ramaphosa used Eskom as an example to illustrate that state-owned enterprises can help uplift poor people. According to him, no private institution after democracy would supply electricity to rural areas, because it would not be profitable.
“It was only through Eskom that power was provided to the rural areas and the townships. It could only be done by a state enterprise. ”
Ramaphosa said on another question that although he understood that people sometimes feel the death penalty should be brought back for murderers, especially the killers of women and children, the country is subject to the Constitution, which puts the right to life first.
“We are looking into the possibility of making life sentences for women and child killers with hard labor,” says Ramaphosa.