Easing of South Africa lockdown may bring no respite for smokers

Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma argues in favour of extending the ban when restrictions are next relaxed.
Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Image: GCIS

The imminent easing of lockdown rules in South Africa may bring no respite for smokers who’ve been contending with a tobacco sales ban for almost two months.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, whose department plays a key role in determining the lockdown rules, argued in favour of extending the ban when restrictions are next relaxed, according to three people who listened to an online presentation she gave to lawmakers this week. The ban is one of several seemingly arbitrary coronavirus containment measures that have sparked public ire.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on April 23 that tobacco sales could resume from May 1, when the country moved from the top virus alert level 5 to level 4, but the government later backtracked and the ban remained in force. On May 13, Ramaphosa said the lockdown would be eased again by the end of the month to allow more businesses to reopen, but didn’t give details.

A ban on alcohol sales is likely to be partially lifted when the country moves to level 3, according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Dlamini-Zuma, who favours the retention of a strict lockdown, is starting to lose the support of some ruling party members, who see it harming the economy and are concerned that illicit trade in banned goods, including cigarettes, are gaining traction, they said.

Even before the ban, South Africa had one of the biggest illicit-cigarette markets, which costs the government about R7 billion a year in lost tax revenue, according to a report published and funded by the Tobacco Institute. About 90% of people who wanted to buy cigarettes during the lockdown were able to do so, albeit at inflated prices, an online survey of 16 000 people conducted by researchers from the University of Cape Town found.

British American Tobacco and the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association suspended legal action against South Africa’s government earlier this month on the assumption that tobacco sales would be allowed to resume when the rules were next eased.

A medical doctor and former health minister who narrowly lost a 2017 election to head the ruling party to Ramaphosa, Dlamini-Zuma has defended her anti-smoking position, noting that sharing cigarettes could spread the virus.

“When people zol, they put saliva on the paper and then they share that zol,” Dlamini-Zuma said last month, using a local term for hand-rolled cigarettes that sometimes contain cannabis.

Legadima Leso, the minister’s spokeswoman, didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.

Research into the relationship between tobacco usage and Covid-19 is inconclusive. While the World Health Organization advises that smoking probably increases the risk of complications from the disease, French researchers said they’re testing whether nicotine could be used to treat it.

© 2020 Bloomberg

Get access to Moneyweb's financial intelligence and support quality journalism for only
R63/month or R630/year.
Sign up here, cancel at any time.

COMMENTS   25

You must be signed in to comment.

SIGN IN SIGN UP

I can’t comprehend why this woman is still in government – she was an atrocious minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Health and not a very competent chairperson of the OAU.
Its about time Cyril undertook a clean up of his ministers there are many who are way out of their depth with the advent of this virus and even before

Cyril cannot do anything.

She has been specifically placed there … doing JZ’s work and keeping Cyril in check.

I am waiting for the day that this population realise that the power is actually in their hands. And that day is not far away.

What are you going to do? Have a moan around a braai? Maybe a strongly worded moneyweb comment? Nobody takes perpetual moaners seriously anymore. You actually have to do something.

Why does Dr zol carry a blanket.

Forget the blanket, anybody have any PICs without the rag/towell thing around/on the head.
Right now with rag, blanket + mask, she could be an imposter for all we know, all we need is a drink-flask and pack of 20s hiding away in that disguise and then we have perfect politician.

We purchase our tobacco products from leading supermarkets for our own personal use only. Why are you punishing us?

The government’s logic on the ban of tobacco products doesn’t make sense and insults our intelligence.

Everyone should take responsibility for their own health, and deal with the consequences accordingly.

Agree with everybody taking responsibility for their own health. With her wielding the stick about smoking, I wonder how long it will be before she bans soft-drinks and sweets. She is surely aware that sugar is harmful and leads to obesity and diabetes?

I bet you also had a whine about the salt reduction laws and the sugar tax.

Smokers and fatties should not be publicly or privately insured. That is called “taking responsibility for your own health. Not so much fun now!

Minister of Cooperative Killjoys and Wet Blankets!

.. Zol + Saliva =? Covid 19.
.. Sex + no condom =? Hiv.
She forgot to ban sex.
Many more similar examples.

Shouldn’t DlaminiZuma be on pension because she is 71 years old ?

She is pushing the agenda of her ex husband that magogo

The lack of shame is absolutely astounding, given her presidential race was very closely linked with the illegal cigarette trade. If there is any legitimate medical reason for the ban, it surely should not be her punting it

We have a “Prime Minister” who calls the shots and a ceremonial president who gets wheeled out occassionaly to announce her decisions.

While other countries are genuinly trying to save lives, our dictators try to give as many ordinary people criminal records for doing perfectly normal things. And they swagger about, completely out of their depth with not a clue as to their gross incompetence. The Dunning-Kruger effect has nowhere in history been so clearly demonstrated.

If the price is a messenger in the free-market economy, then what is the message that consumers are conveying to the government when they are willing to pay 5 times more for a packet of cigarettes and 3 times more for a bottle of wine under government lockdown? Well, to put it mildly, consumers are shouting that they do not agree with the minister. Consumers are paying a premium to ignore the commands and decisions of this authoritarian politburo. People are willing to pay a premium to be in control of their own lives.

Ok, so she has many an ex- to her titles but in the end with a African twist she is Africa’s equivalent of Hillary Clinton, unfortunately she simply knows too much and frightens the mask and panties out of CR and the rest of the ANC team. As for the smoking thing, smokers stop b & moaning, she simply does not care. History will eventually theorize on how many millions she made out of this ban.
Please convince me that if the smoking and drinking CEOs of SA approached her with a few hundred millions worth of current low value equities this would not come to an end in a flash !

I have on good authority that her proposal was dismissed out of hand in 5 minutes where the real decisions are made. The current hype is to let Dr Zol down gently.
The bullying tactics have to stop. Hustle and bustle as normal in many of the township malls and trading areas with no police in sight and 4 police waiting to arrest 2 surfers.
No rationale for many ridiculous regulations dispute CR’s promises that they will be transparent and mistakes have been made that need reversing.

She is NOT a medical doctor . get your facts straight .
SHE IS A BIOLOGIST

@ geranium. According to her Wikipedia page, after obtaining a BSc at the University of Zululand she began her medical studies at the University of Natal but went into exile in 1976. She finished her studies at the University of Bristol in the UK in 1978. Subsequently, she worked as a medical doctor at the Mbabane Government Hospital in Swaziland. In 1985 she obtained a postgraduate diploma in tropical child health in the UK. She is definitely a medical doctor.

However, being a medical doctor does not prevent you from being an idiot as well.

Lol, no. Get your facts straight.

Another Zuma in charge of something??? Haven’t we had enough Zuma’s in government running things?????????????

This lot. Hahaaa. Its clear the level of intellect and the blank expressions go hand in hand.

So the intention of the lockdown is to give provinces time to prepare for the peak. As far as I know after 8 weeks they all confirmed they are now ready. Beds. ventelators etc.etc. Would they have made their preparations excluding smokers? No. even that is discrimination and nobody ever mentioned it.

If MmaZol had an opinion that smokers might need more ventelators then best get them. THE PEOPLE DID NOT STOP SMOKING!!!!!!!!!! HU?? So because if this “Woman” Smokers are exposed to more risk and she is doing nothing about it.

They could have used a small fraction of the taxes that would have been generated to buy a few more and afterwards donate it to the NHI.

Now they have NOTHING and on her insistence smokers are now exposed to certain death.

Maybe it time she and the rest of this circus is held to account.

End of comments.

LATEST CURRENCIES  

USD / ZAR
GBP / ZAR
EUR / ZAR

Podcasts

NEWSLETTERS WEB APP SHOP PORTFOLIO TOOL TRENDING CPD HUB

Follow us:

Search Articles:Advanced Search
Click a Company: