Ramaphosa admits he should have explained govt’s U-turn on cigarette sales

The president said he should have been the one to announce the overturning of the decision.

FILE: President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday offered some clarity around why his announcement on the lifting of the ban on the sale of cigarettes was reversed.

The president said he should have been the one to announce the overturning of the decision. Ramaphosa was speaking during a meeting with the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef).

Government has been taken to court by the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA) and British American Tobacco South Africa (BATSA) over its decision to extend the ban on the sale of tobacco products.

Ramaphosa initially announced the ban on the cigarette sale would be lifted in April. However, government made an about-turn and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said the ban would remain, citing health reasons and advise from experts.

Eyewitness News asked the president what advise was relied on when he made the initial announcement.

“When the initial decision was taken, we obviously had also gleaned on the advice that was there from the medical field. The change came about as a result of a flurry of concerns and objections that were raised by a number of South Africans in their thousands,” Ramaphosa said.

He said he should have been the one who announced the reversal of that decision.

“And give reasons why this was being changed. That was not done, and we would concede that,” he said.

The president said Dlamini-Zuma had been subjected to unfair attacks over the contentious ban.

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