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Govt refuses to back down on cigarette sale ban

President Cyril Ramaphosa has confirmed the ban would remain in place when the country moves to level 3 lockdown next week.

FILE: The ministers said the government would outline its position in more detail when the matter got to court. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Tuesday stuck by the decision to ban the sale of cigarettes, telling members of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) the prohibition was the correct move.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has confirmed the ban would remain in place when the country moves to level 3 lockdown next week.

Mkhize and Dlamini-Zuma didn’t speak much on the sale of alcohol, but they did strongly back the ban on cigarette sales.

As Cogta minister, Dlamini-Zuma is tasked with executing the Disaster Management Act, which powers lockdown regulations, and as health minister, Mkhize leads the medical response to the pandemic.

Mkhize told members of the NCOP it would be a waste of time debating the health risks of smoking, but he added an economic debate was separate matter altogether.

“If people want to debate the issue from a point of view of saying they’ve got businesses and so on, that’s a different matter. So, in this case, there is no need for any peer review,” Mkhize said.

Dlamini-Zuma took the opportunity to address claims that she was somehow linked to alleged illicit cigarette trader Adriano Mazzotti.

“I must also put it on record, I am not Mazzotti’s friend, and secondly, if anyone is doing crime in South Africa, they must be arrested. Whatever crime it is, whether it is with cigarettes; they must be arrested,” Dlamini-Zuma said.

The ministers said the government would outline its position in more detail when the matter got to court.

For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.