Decision to ban cigarette sales 'not draconian': Dlamini-Zuma
Co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has defended the government's apparent U-turn on the ban on cigarette sales, saying the decision was a collective one that came after public comments.
She insisted that the strict measures in place to combat Covid-19 were not “draconian” — and that the decision to extend the ban on tobacco was guided by science.
“We have taken a collective decision. With all these things [that people said], we must listen,” she said.
Dlamini-Zuma announced that 2,000 people had written in saying they were against the sale of cigarettes under level 4 of the lockdown.
Dlamini-Zuma said when President Cyril Ramaphosa announced last week that cigarette sales would be allowed under the reduced restrictions, he “spoke for the collective”. And now, she said, the collective had decided that the ban should remain in place.
“When the president speaks, he does not speak for himself,” she said.
Dlamini-Zuma insisted that smoking was hazardous to the lungs, which may compound the effect of the coronavirus on the respiratory system.
“We are a government that is responsive to people, even if it takes a decision and people say they don’t like that decision,” she said.
“I don’t think you can say the measures we are taking to save people's lives are draconian. It’s the virus that’s draconian because it affects people — it kills people.”
Earlier, Dlamini-Zuma said the government could not please everyone with the new regulations.
That was in relation to the regulation that allows for exercise within a 5km radius only between 6am and 9am.
Economic development minister Ebrahim Patel said maintaining restrictions on many sectors of the economy under the lockdown has been “some of the toughest decisions we had to take”.
“We've got to push the peak [of Covid-19 cases] out as far as possible,” he said.