- President Cyril Ramaphosa admits that he should have handled the government's u-turn on tobacco differently
- Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has been shouldering most of the ban for the decision to extend the lockdown ban
- However, the president says that the announcement should have been made by him personally
President Cyril Ramaphosa has admitted to having made a mistake by allowing Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to make the announcement that tobacco products will remain banned during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Speaking to the South African National Editors Forum on Sunday, Ramaphosa was confronted about arguably one of the most controversial moments in the government's response to the pandemic.
“When the initial decision was taken we obviously leaned on the advice that was there from the medical field but at the same we felt that because people do smoke in our country there needs to come a time when the restriction will be lowered."
Ramaphosa explained that this had prompted his infamous announcement that the tobacco ban would be lifted. However, the president says this had been met with some fierce resistance:
"When I did announce that we were lifting the ban on cigarettes and later changed it — 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 — we then had to go back to the drawing board and then finally announce a change."
The president admitted that allowing the Cooperative Governance Minister make the announcement declaring a continued ban was an error in judgement:
"Obviously people have taken issue with the way the announcement was made. It was made by Minister Dlamini-Zuma. What we should have done, is the president having announced it, the president should’ve been the one to announce it again and give reasons why this was being changed.That was not done and we will concede that as well. It should’ve been done”
Nevertheless, the incident has seen immense criticism levied against Dlamini-Zuma amid speculation over whether or not it was an attempt to undermine Ramaphosa.
Briefly.co.za reported that the ANC had condemned the 'attacks' on the minister and the president agrees that the backlash was unwarranted.
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