Coronavirus: 4 points on Monday's inter-ministerial briefing on state of disaster

2020-03-16 19:56
Cyril Ramaphosa.

Cyril Ramaphosa.

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Following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address to the nation on Sunday night, where he announced a national state of disaster in light of the Covid-19 outbreak, ministers held a media briefing in Pretoria to clarify what their department will be doing during this time.

Here are five important points made at the briefing:

Poorer areas are more vulnerable

Mkhize explained that the reason why the state of disaster was triggered was to avoid an outbreak in poorer and more vulnerable areas.

He said inequalities in society meant more resources would need to be directed towards these areas.

On Sunday, Ramaphosa announced that internal transmission of the coronavirus in the country had started, which meant positive cases were not only imported from outside of South Africa.

Mkhize said that should these transmissions reach certain sectors of society, such as informal settlements, "it will create a new dynamic".

Universities need to suspend academic programmes

Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande said the department was encouraging institutions to suspend all contact lectures and limit contact between students.

A discussion with stakeholders is planned for Tuesday when they will discuss whether a shutdown is necessary.

Diversion of finances

Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni said a national disaster fund was available for situations like this. Should the need arise, certain government programmes will be reduced so funds can be shifted.

"National treasury officials are in contact with the financial sector regulatory authority which reports to the Minister of Finance to make sure we have a co-ordinated approach as far as the banking and financial services sector is concerned." 

Implications for by-elections

The restrictions have a major impact on elections, and with by-elections in certain areas set to go ahead soon, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said the Electoral Commission of SA would need to get involved.

The way elections are dealt with would need to change, Dlamini-Zuma said. The IEC will possibly approach the court.

"Elections, as you know, involve a lot of physical contact," Dlamini-Zuma said.

"We need to just look at how we reorganise that, so we may have to postpone some of the elections so that we can reorganise." 

She added this would be a collaborative effort between municipalities and local government departments.

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