Analyst calls for transparency on government’s sale of cigarettes decision

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Questions are being asked about the U-Turn government has made on lifting the ban on tobacco products. Co-operative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma announced that the sale of cigarettes would still not be allowed during Level-4 of the national lockdown, reversing the announcement made by President Cyril Ramaphosa on the weekend that the ban would be lifted on the May 1.

In the video below,  Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma says more than 2000 people opposed the lifting of the sale of cigarettes ban: 

Political Analyst Ivor Sarakinsky says South Africans need greater transparency on how decisions are currently being made.

“I think most people are concerned not with the stringent measures of dealing with the disaster but how those decisions are being made, what is the evidence, where is the data, what’s the politics, who is influencing who. So, it might be a good decision to stop the sale but we need to know exactly how that decision was made, who were the consultations with, what were the special interests, did they declare conflict of interest, did they have a special economic interest in that decision because that flip flop is a real problem.”

Sarakinsky says the mixed messaging on tobacco regulations may be a reflection of factions within the African National Congress who are seeking to gain an advantage.

“The hardship is clear and I think that many people who are suffering under this and I think that hardship, that experience and that reality will become part of these battles and people who are engaging in factional battles will try and position themselves to get an advantage out of that in their struggles with the direction that the president is taking. Important here is that behind the scenes is that all these economic issues, state-owned enterprises, SAA, SA Express etc and I think that is all part of this pushback and fight back that is going on.  I think the cigarettes and the smoking is the obvious one, I think there is a lot more going on behind the scenes.”

What Level-4 means 

Level-4 lockdown will see an easing of regulations and certain sectors of the economy will be operational. Dlamini-Zuma outlined what will be allowed during Level-4 in a media briefing on Wednesday.

She says people will have a once-off opportunity to move to provinces of their workplaces or to move back home during the new Level-4 lockdown regulations. The minister also stressed that once people have moved they will not be allowed to commute back to another province until the end of Level-4.

Dlamini-Zuma says that borders will still remain closed except for import and export of goods.

The graphic below provides more information about what Level-4 means: