EDITORIAL | BAT U-turn lights way for sensible talks
To lead a united front against Covid-19, government must have more meaningful discussions with business
The announcement by British American Tobacco SA that it will no longer be pursuing legal action against President Cyril Ramaphosa and his government gives a glimmer of hope that sense will soon prevail in government, whose handling of the sale of tobacco products has caused deep divisions at a time when our society should be united against the common enemy: Covid-19.
Though we are not privy to the behind-scenes discussions that led BAT, a leader in the industry, to withdraw its court challenge against the National Command Council (NCC) about the ban on the sale of tobacco products during level 4 of our country’s fight against the pandemic, it is clear the engagements that have taken place have led the group to believe a solution will be found soon.
The past few days have also seen some key figures in government, most notably finance minister Tito Mboweni, and senior civil servants, such as National Treasury director-general Dondo Mogajane and SA Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Edward Kieswetter, speaking frankly about the heavy losses the taxman will incur as a result of the ban. ..