- The Democratic Alliance claims the President Cyril Ramaphosa has no evidence to back up his decision on the controversial tobacco ban
- Responding to a parliamentary question from the DA, Ramaphosa's answer has falling flat in the party's view
- The DA insists that the ban has nothing to do with public safety and everything to do with the 'whims' of Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
The Democratic Alliance is adamant that President Cyril Ramaphosa's evidence to support the tobacco ban has gone up in smoke.
In a statement released by Dean Macpherson DA Shadow Minister of Trade, the party commented that:
"In an incredible turn of events, President Cyril Ramaphosa has admitted that he has no empirical evidence to support the continued ban of cigarettes and other tobacco products under the current level 3 lockdown regulations."
The opposition party had asked Ramaphosa what evidence the NCC had used to justify the restrictions during the Covid-19 lockdown:
"The Democratic Alliance (DA), in a written parliamentary question, asked the President “[on] what empirical evidence did the National Coronavirus Command Council [relied] to collectively (a) ban the sale of tobacco products during the national lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19”. Instead of providing any shred of empirical data, as the question requested, the President responded that the ban was based on “the submissions received [and] relevant medical literature focusing inter alia on the effects of smoking on public and individual health, especially in the face of a respiratory illness such as Covid-19”."
With the president responding that the council had relied on submissions and existing anti-smoking research, the DA is less than amused:
"President Ramaphosa’s failure to produce any evidence is a clear indication that there wasn’t any empirical evidence to support the ban in the first place. The continued punting of submissions received is also ludicrous given the fact that government only received 454 public submissions in favour of the tobacco ban."
Briefly.co.za reported that Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu had said that the ban would be lifted when SA migrates to Level 2.
However, the DA exposed this as lip-service by revealing that Ramaphosa remains unwilling to commit to a set time for the ban to be overturned:
"When asked about the date the government envisaged that the ban on the sale of tobacco products would be lifted, the President indicated that “[at] this stage, it is difficult to determine when the ban on the sale of tobacco and related products will be lifted”."
The DA is adamant that the goal of the ban is not public health but rather a power move by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma:
"While the government continues to tie itself in knots over the ban and criminalisation of smoking, it is evident that the ban has nothing to do with the impact of smoking on public and individual health, and has seemingly everything to do with whims and wills Minister Dlamini-Zuma and those in the illicit trade who would benefit from such a ban."
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