DA leader suspends campaign, party's policy conference postponed
DA interim leader John Steenhuisen has suspended his campaign to become the party's permanent leader hours after President Cyril Ramaphosa declared coronavirus a national disaster and announced a string of measures to curtail its spread.
"I have noted Sunday night’s announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa on the novel coronavirus outbreak.
"This is going to be an immense challenge for South Africa, and it is important that we stand together and do everything in our power to protect ourselves and those around us in order to mitigate the risk of spreading the virus," Steenhuisen said in a statement on Monday.
"In light of this, I will be suspending all planned campaign events with immediate effect until further notice."
Steenhuisen, who has been criss-crossing the country addressing DA members, said his campaign would continue to communicate with delegates in safe and appropriate ways. His campaign team would continually monitor and reassess the situation but the safety and wellbeing of South Africans was of primary concern, he said.
Ramaphosa announced that gatherings of more than 100 people would be prohibited as one of the measures to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.
The DA has postponed its policy conference scheduled for April 4-5.
DA federal council chairperson Helen Zille said the decision was taken by the party's federal executive, which also resolved to strictly abide by the guidelines for meetings and other forms of social and professional interaction outlined by Ramaphosa.
She said the party would use the 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," she said.
She said a decision on the federal congress, planned for May 30-31, would be taken later with the proviso that it must be held after the policy conference.