Photo: SA Gov News / Twitter

Elections, travel and education in SA: How coronavirus will affect it all

These are extraordinary measures, for extraordinary times. The coronavirus outbreak is already doing a bang-up job of shutting Mzansi down.


Photo: SA Gov News / Twitter

These are unprecedented times. Coronavirus has the entire world in a state of panic, and although measures are in place to limit the spread of the virus, the COVID-19 strain has seen its global body count rise above the 6 000-mark. Following an inter-ministerial briefing today, South Africa is set to undergo some major changes.

Coronavirus latest for South Africa

Cyril Ramaphosa announced a host of actions – including a travel ban and a mass shutdown of the ports – on Sunday. He then handed over to his Cabinet colleagues to further explain what their departments would do to protect South Africans from coronavirus. It looks like we’re in the “Hail Mary” moment of the Thuma Mina government.

Elections, travel functions and the education calendar are all set for mighty shake-ups – the type which fit the severity of the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s how things are changing in South Africa for the foreseeable future:

How coronavirus will impact elections, travel and education in SA:


Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has revealed that several local elections will be pushed back to a later date than March, following the coronavirus update. It could have far-reaching implications on a national scale, too:

  • By-elections that were due to take place this week, have been suspended.
  • The IEC will now be approached by the government, who will also ask the courts for a voting extension period.
  • Some elections will have to be cancelled outright. Ward councillors will need to help to ensure there aren’t large gatherings, too.
  • It’s too early to pass comment on whether the 2021 municipal elections will be impacted.
  • But spheres of government have already been affected – all international travel for politicians has been banned.


Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula’s address was short and succinct. But the way public transport operates is set for a major change. There are new guidelines in place for airport and rail staff, and taxi users have also been addressed:

  • Trains and taxis will be affected by social distancing, taxis will also be expected to undergo sanitisation.
  • Random testing for coronavirus symptoms will be applied on taxis and trains – which, at this stage, are still allowed to operate.
  • No foreign nationals will be allowed from banned countries, as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
  • All airline and ground staff are required to use surgical masks and gloves when facilitating international travellers on arrival.


Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has confirmed some key dates for when our educational facilities will be closed. Currently, universities are deciding their own courses of action, but our schools are subject to much stricter controls:

  • Schools will close on Wednesday 18 March (Tuesday is the last day they are open). Classes will resume on 14 April “unless further decsions are made”.
  • A total of 10 school days will be lost as a result of the closures.
  • All mass events of more than 100 people scheduled for March and April will be postponed or cancelled with immediate effect. This includes any school sports or extra-curricular activities.
  • Schools will give learners work they can do at home with the supervision of parents. Workbooks and worksheets “must be used to keep children engaged”.
  • Guidelines on how the school enrichment programmes are going to be managed will be published this week.