Items in the ministerial briefing that will impact day-to-day life

Health minister Zweli Mkhize. Picture: Jacques Nelles

The impact that the coronavirus outbreak will have was outlined by a range of government ministers in a briefing on Monday morning.

On Monday morning, various ministers from a number of South African departments convened to brief the media and elaborate on the national state of disaster announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday evening.

Here are the announcements made by the various ministers that could affect your daily life:

Blade Nzimande: minister of higher education, science and technology

  • Nzimande’s department has set up a team to deal with the outbreak and they are working with stakeholders from various higher education and training institutions.
  • They have thus far agreed to: limit personal contact and promote social distancing on campuses, suspend contact lectures on all campuses and cancel/postpone all major gatherings (such as graduations) on campuses across the nation.
  • They will meet on Tuesday to map out a definitive way forward.

Angie Motshekga – minister of basic education 

  • Following a teleconference held on Monday morning with representatives from all provinces, the department has estimated that they will lose 10 school days when they move up the school holidays in an effort to keep children at home.
  • As a result, they may have to shorten the June and September school holidays to make up the days or extend school days or the school year to recover lost time.
  • Schools will possibly be advised to send children home with homework in order to ensure work continues with assistance with their families and guardians.

Nathi Mthethwa – minister of sport, recreation, arts and culture

  • As per the 100-person-per-event limit, most sporting events and large public gatherings will have to be cancelled.
  • Seeing as this sector will be hit the hardest, he will meet with stakeholders this week to discuss a recovery strategy for the financial impact that postponements and cancellations will have on the sector.

Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini-Zuma – minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs

  • Her department will have to complete the process of drafting regulations to guide processes during this state of disaster. Guidelines are expected to be ready today.
  • Her department will also need to be in contact with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) because the state of disaster will affect the upcoming by-elections.
  • As a result, the IEC will need to be in communication with the courts in order to follow the necessary legal procedures for postponing the elections.
  • The IEC will also need to look at implementing health measures to limit the contraction and spread of the diseases because election processes require so much human contact.

Ebrahim Patel – minister of trade and industry

  • He will be in communication with the Competition Commission and Consumer Protection Agency who will be monitoring prices on goods in an effort to keep things fair.
  • He will be looking at the procurement of the necessary medical goods (masks, gloves, sanitizers)
  • The department will also be looking into how internal company medical facilities can be used to expand the capability of the public health system by imploring them to serve surrounding communities.
  • He will be looking into securing supply chains and dealing with disruption to the sector
  • He will be working to ensure the supply of basic goods is not impacted negatively (both by import/export restrictions and panic buying).

Fikile Mbalula – minister of transport

  • Because the aviation industry is such a high-risk sector, exercises have been carried out according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines to bring processes up to standard.
  • The Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) has distributed masks and gloves to all frontline staff.
  • All passenger buses at the airport will be cleaned and sanitised accordingly.
  • International visitors from high-risk areas such as Italy, Iran, Spain, Germany, South Korea, the United States, the United Kingdom and China have been banned.
  • The Passenger Rail Agency (Prasa) will perform sanitisation on trains as well as random testing among passengers.
  • They will launch a drive or education on social distancing for public transport users.
  • Random testing will also be done at taxi ranks.
  • Taxis will be expected to undergo sanitisation.

Aaron Motsoaledi – minister of home affairs

  • He reiterated that the department of trade and industry will not be negatively affected by measures implemented by DHA as they were cognisant not to impact commercial activities.
  • Of the country’s 72 land ports, they will only be closing 35 which do not see much commercial activity.
  • The purpose of these closures is to limit the movement of people, not goods.
  • Of the country’s eight seaports, only two will be closed to the movement of people. This will be done at Saldhana Bay and Mossel Bay.
  • Passengers at Saldhana Bay and Mossel Bay will not be allowed to disembark and there will be no crew changes allowed for ships who often exchange staff compliments from time to time.
  • Border post closures: 12 border posts between Botswana and South Africa will be closed. Five border posts between Lesotho and South Africa will be operational, four will be closed. One border post between Mozambique and South Africa will be operational, two will be closed. Two border posts between Namibia and South Africa will be operational, three will be closed. Because there is only one border post between South Africa and Zimbabwe, it will have to remain open.
  • Officials from the closed posts will be reassigned to open posts to assist with the possibility of increased traffic.
  • Visas: since Visas are the only way to limit movement, this is how the movement of international visitors from high-risk areas will be controlled.
  • Visas issued to Iranian and Chineses citizens between January and February will be revoked.
  • Italian, French, German, American, South Korean and British citizens will now need visas to enter South Africa.
  • Health-certificate-based visas for international visitors from medium-risk areas such as Portugal, Hong-Kong and Singapore will now be required.
  • Study visas and work permits will not be affected. However, if people on study visas and work permits travel to the aforementioned affected areas, this may affect their re-entry into the country.
  • Mostoaledi also explained that his department is making use of an offshore passenger control system to pre-emptively screen air passengers in on-going efforts to limit the entry of high-risk individuals into the country.

Ronald Lamola – minister of justice and correctional services

  • Lamola highlighted that as per section 36 of the constitution, the president is well within his rights to temporarily limit the rights of citizens due to the unique situation we find ourselves in as a country.
  • His department is currently drafting regulations in case the situation needs to be escalated to a state of emergency.
  • In the coming days, correctional facilities will be sanitised in order to prepare the facilities to be able to receive visitors when they re-open in 30 days.

Thulas Nxesi – minister of employment and labour

  • Advised employers and employees to comply with government directives.
  • Reminded employers that they have a duty of care towards their employees.
  • Nxesi, together with his department will revise the various types of leave and issue directives on how they are to be used during this period.

Lindiwe Zulu  – minister of social development

  • The DSD remains in contact with the four South Africans who were left behind due to health concerns during the Wuhan repatriation mission.
  • As her department is in charge of the disaster relief fund, they will be engaged in meetings to determine the allocation of funds.
  • Her department is working to provide counselling to infected persons.
  • DSD is also spearheading the process of infected persons’ reintegration back into society after they have been treated and recovered from the disease.
  • DSD will look at implementing health measures in the distribution of social grants through the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa).
  • Lastly, DSD will be launching a command centre which will then be used to educate those within their ranks on the necessary health measures and other procedural implementations.

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