In response to the announcements made by the President of the Republic, Cyril Ramaphosa, on national television last night in connection with the outbreak of the coronavirus and the steps designed to contain it, KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Sipho Hlomuka together with Head of Department of Cogta Thando Tubane today convened an urgent departmental management meeting to give practical effects to the far-reaching and necessary measures announced by the President.

 As one of the major stakeholders in the implementation of declarations of disasters, KZN Cogta will today proceed with the formal establishment of the Joint Operations Centre that will coordinate the province’s response to the declaration of national disaster within our jurisdiction. We will ensure that all key stakeholders, including the provincial Department of Health, are mobilised and all protocols are followed.

As a provincial government department, we will also ensure that all measures announced by the President in response to the coronavirus outbreak are implemented by KZN Cogta itself with regards to our staff as well as by all our stakeholders such municipalities and traditional institutions.

In line with the President’s announcements, we will ensure the following:

–          All upcoming departmental public events, such as the Local Government Indaba (scheduled for 24 March), are postponed until further notice.

–          KZN Cogta welcomes the steps taken by the Independent Electoral Commission to approach the Electoral Court to postpone all scheduled by-elections.

–          All plenary sittings of municipal councils with attendance of over 100 persons are suspended until further notice, with the exception of urgent sittings where the numbers of participants should be reduced below 100 persons.

–          Similarly, KZN Cogta recommends that all Traditional Council meetings and izimbizo involving more than 100 persons be postponed.

–          All departmental, municipal and Traditional Council meetings considered urgent and involving fewer than 100 persons can proceed provided stringent hygiene procedures and measures are implemented in addition to a clear health and safety plan for each meeting. We recommend that alternative solutions, such as teleconferencing, be explored in order to promote social distancing.

–          KZN Cogta is engaging with the Auditor-General to find an acceptable alternative communication solution for the upcoming municipal Integrated Development Plan roadshows, which are a legal requirement.

–          As of today KZN Cogta’s wellness officials are conducting a high-impact health awareness campaign in all departmental buildings and our appeal is that municipalities and traditional institutions follow suit.

–          As of today, KZN Cogta is working to improve hygiene standards in all departmental buildings and traditional institutions in the province.

–          Already in progress is KZN Cogta’s engagement with the provincial health authorities in managing situations where employees may have been exposed to the coronavirus. A special protocol will apply to any employee who has exhibited symptoms of the coronavirus.

–          As of today, KZN Cogta will discourage all non-essential travel for its employees and our appeal is that municipalities and traditional institutions follow suit.

We reiterate the President’s call for social solidarity at this difficult time. We urge everyone to maintain the highest standards of hygiene and minimise public exposure. Let us join hands in combatting the spread of this deadly virus in our communities!