Cogta minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has lambasted those who associated her directly with the government’s decision to ban tobacco sales for five months.
Dlamini-Zuma said the people who were pushing this line were using her as a scapegoat.
According to her, the decision to ban tobacco, which will be lifted on Tuesday, was never her individual decision as had been the impression created by many.
Instead, she said, it was a government decision, taken by a “team” led by President Cyril Ramaphosa. To create the impression that this was her decision, she charged, was, in fact, undermining the government and the president.
“People are giving me too much credit that I do not deserve. I do not run government; I am part of a collective,” said Dlamini-Zuma.
“This narrative is also shortchanging the president and government. He leads the team and the team takes the decisions. Yes, in the end I am the one who signs [the gazette] because you cannot have 30 signatures, but to pretend it is just my decision is disingenuous. I just do not have that power to instruct government what to ban.
“Some people find it easy to find a scapegoat, but that is part of life.”
She said that no-one in the cabinet, including Ramaphosa, was issuing instructions. Instead, all issues were debated and backed up with facts and evidence until one viewpoint prevailed based on majority support.
Asked whether the ban on tobacco and booze sales — which ends at midnight — might be reinstated again, she said that was a bridge to be crossed when the government gets to it.
“I am not a seer, so I cannot tell whether we will ban alcohol and tobacco again. We will cross that bridge when we get to it,” she said.