NEDLAC partners back mandatory vaccine policy in South Africa – report

Mandatory vaccines South Africa
Image credit: Flickr/GovernmentZA

Social partners at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) have reached “broad agreement” to support a COVID-19 mandatory vaccine policy in South Africa, Bloomberg reported on Friday (3 December).

NEDLAC’s social partners include the government, business groups, labour unions, civil society and community representatives.

Mandatory vaccines in South Africa

The report quoted COSATU’s parliamentary coordinator Matthew Parks, who said the mandatory vaccines policy could be implemented in early 2022 in South Africa, but some details are yet to be finalised.

“Getting to a 90 percent vaccination rate is in the interest of our members. We can save their lives and their jobs. What we not going to do is support further lockdowns when we have lost 2 million jobs,” Parks reportedly said.

COSATU was initially against vaccine mandates, but changed its mind after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address to the nation last Sunday in which he announced a task team to look into the matter.

Another union federation, FEDUSA, also supported the task team’s establishment, but others, such as the Public Servants Association of South Africa, have remained opposed to vaccine mandates.

Rising cases

COVID-19 cases have shot up in recent days, reaching 11,535 cases in a single day on Thursday at a positivity rate of around 22 percent, according to official government statistics.

As South Africa faces the onset of a fourth wave of the pandemic, concerns persist over the slow rate of vaccinations. Around 36 percent of the population has been vaccinated so far against a target of 67 percent to achieve herd immunity.

Writing in a Business Day column on Wednesday, Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele urged South Africans to vaccinate because the economy cannot afford another round of harder lockdowns.

“While freedom of choice is important, no person should be allowed to harm others through their choices, and everyone should be protected from harm that is outside their control,” he wrote.

“If a person chooses not to be vaccinated, they cannot also choose to engage in social activities that place others at risk. We are at a crucial turning point in our response to the pandemic.

“We cannot afford further restrictions on economic activity or the uncertain pendulum swings that have characterised lockdowns in the past.”

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