Helen Zille. Picture: ALAISTER RUSSELL
Helen Zille. Picture: ALAISTER RUSSELL

The DA announced on Monday it has postponed its policy conference, which was scheduled to take place on April 4 and 5, after President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the rapidly spreading coronavirus a national disaster.

DA federal council chair Helen Zille said a decision on the much-anticipated federal congress, that was due to be held from May 30-31, to elect the DA’s new leadership, will be taken at a later stage, “with the proviso that it must be held after the policy conference”.

Zille said the party’s federal executive resolved that the DA will abide strictly by the guidelines for meetings and other forms of social and professional interaction outlined by Ramaphosa on Sunday evening.

The president announced sweeping measures to contain the spread of Covid-19, including travel restrictions on foreigners from hard-hit countries, a ban on mass gatherings of more than 100 people and the closure of schools.

“We will use this opportunity to trial technology-based conferencing, for identified aspects of the policy discussions. The policy steering committee is busy devising a plan for doing this,” said Zille.

As of Sunday, the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 had risen to 61 and included cases of local transmission, said Ramaphosa. The number was expected to rise in the coming weeks.

“We have decided to take urgent and drastic measures to protect our people and reduce the impact of the virus on our society and economy. This situation calls for an extraordinary response. There can be no half measures,” he said.

A state of national disaster has been declared in terms of the Disaster Management Act, and the cabinet has decided to establish a national command council chaired by the president to co-ordinate SA’s response to the virus.

mkentanel@businesslive.co.za