IN QUOTES | Put that in your pipe and smoke it - Ramaphosa defends tobacco ban

06 May 2020 - 11:58 By Cebelihle Bhengu
President Cyril Ramaphosa has defended to ban on cigarettes, saying those who don't like it can go to court.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has defended to ban on cigarettes, saying those who don't like it can go to court.
Image: Esa Alexander

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday again defended the government's decision to institute a ban on the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products during the lockdown.

This as the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita), on Monday filed papers at the Pretoria high court, arguing against the ban. 

The issue of cigarettes has been a hot topic since president Ramaphosa announced a week ago that the sale would be permitted under level 4 lockdown.

Then there was an about-turn on the decision when co-operative governance & traditional affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, also chair of the national coronavirus command council (NCCC), said the government had elected to ban their sale for health reasons.

Many accused Dlamini-Zuma of “defying” the president, but earlier this week Ramaphosa came out in her defence and defended the ban.

Addressing the media at the Royal Showgrounds in Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal, the president maintained his position on the matter. 

Here are five quotes from Ramaphosa on the ban:

Ban a collective decision

“After careful consideration and discussion, the NCCC reconsidered its position on tobacco. As a result, the regulations ratified by cabinet and announced by minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on April 29 extended the prohibition.

“This was a collective decision and the public statements by both myself and the minister were done on behalf of, and mandated by, the collective I lead.”

Decision influenced by medical experts

“Every regulation we have put in place has been carefully considered. Along the way there has been consultation with medical experts, various constituencies and different industries. We have been guided by international bodies and the experience of other countries.”

People first 

“The regulations we have put in place are founded on that commitment to life and dignity, and which justify — in these extreme circumstances — temporary restrictions on other rights, like freedom of movement and association.”

Change is unavoidable 

“You can ask yourself whether you've ever changed your mind on anything and you'll find  you've done it more times than just sticking to a position you may have taken originally. So this brouhaha on this issue really should not even be there.”

Those who feel aggrieved, must go to court

“We live in a free country and the content of our democracy is such that if you feel aggrieved, you are entitled to take your grievance to the courts. That's what they've elected to do and we still have great confidence in the courts, that they are able to examine matters and disputes properly.”