Umkhonto weSizwe vets oppose sale of cigarettes

The Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) has written to the president about the ongoing ban on cigarette sales.
The Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) has written to the president about the ongoing ban on cigarette sales.
Image: 123rf.com/marcbruxelle

The Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) has lauded President Cyril Ramaphosa for "excellent hard work" in leading an impressive government response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the ANC-aligned military veterans association said it "strongly opposes" the lifting of the ban on cigarette sales and "temptation" to reopen schools when the country moves to level four of the lockdown on Friday, as pronounced by Ramaphosa last week.

Association spokesperson Carl Niehaus said Ramaphosa deserved kudos for his decisiveness in introducing the lockdown to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Niehaus said he was pleased with government interventions to help the poor through the distribution of food parcels, increasing social grants payouts and providing shelter for the homeless.

He said the MKMVA was impressed that most South Africans had largely complied with social distancing measures, even in densely populated places such as townships.

While there were a few who deliberately contravened lockdown regulations, Niehaus commended police and soldiers for ensuring there was enforcement and that the bad apples were arrested.

"The MKMVA wishes to express our support for the excellent hard work being done by President Cyril Ramaphosa in the battle against the spread of Covid-19," Niehaus said.

"We applaud the timely and decisive manner in which the lockdown was introduced, and the steps that have been taken to ensure its effectiveness, and that our nation complies with these measures."

Niehaus said they understood the economic challenges brought about by the lockdown and government's decision to ease it with partial reopening of the economy.

However, the association believes the reopening should not include the sale of cigarettes, and appealed to the government not to entertain "lobbying" from the tobacco industry.

"The MKMVA strongly opposes the sale of cigarettes. The coronavirus infection is a respiratory disease and smoking affects our ability to fight the disease."

Niehaus cautioned the government against flirting with the idea of reopening schools at this stage, given the challenges it would present on practising social distancing.

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