Politics

Ramaphosa promises to clear the air on lockdown cigarette sales

Ramaphosa promises to clear the air on lockdown cigarette sales

Confusion over cigarette sales during the Covid-19 lockdown should end on Saturday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called an urgent meeting of the President’s Co-ordinating Council to clarify regulations.

This follows an announcement by Western Cape premier Alan Winde that cigarettes could be sold to customers who also bought essential items such as food.

On Friday, Winde said he had called Ramaphosa “to make clear our concerns relating to the proper interpretation of the regulations, which are at times vague”.

He said the Western Cape government “does not have the power to change regulations” and this had been reported on incorrectly.

“We know that the regulations were created for this reason. And any clarifications or updates to them ... need to be done with that ultimate aim in mind — to continue keeping us all safe,” he said.

Winde acknowledged the importance of regulations and said he had sent a list of questions to Ramaphosa. The cigarette issue had grabbed the spotlight but was one of many questions.

For example, “Can you buy a data dongle so you can access e-learning resources? Can learners buy notebooks and pens to study? This is so important for our learners right now who need an education while our schools are closed.”

The police head of lockdown enforcement in the Western Cape, Maj-Gen Andre Lincoln, said on Friday officers would act against people selling or buying cigarettes.

“Cigarettes are not listed as an essential product, so cigarettes can’t be sold,” he said on CapeTalk.