Vaccine mandates in our lifetime?

Vaccine mandates are still a hot topic in South Africa. More businesses are coming out in support of making vaccination compulsory for employees, while some organisations are still contesting the constitutionality of this approach. This week MTN said it will be introducing vaccine mandates for its employees, joining a growing list of companies like Standard Bank, Dis-Chem, Discovery and even Pick n Pay – which introduced a vaccine mandate but left the final decision to franchise owners of stores. The companies say that vaccine mandates will provide a safe workplace and reduce the burden on the health system. 

The mandates will be implemented in 2022. The consequences for not getting vaccinated can range from losing a job to being placed in an alternative position – but only if the reason for not getting vaccinated is clearly stated and valid. Employers cannot, however, force employees to get vaccinated. That’s according to Nedlac, a council where government, labour, business and community organisations debate economic and labour issues. This week it said it supports vaccine mandates and will approach the Constitutional Court for a legal declarator and to get clarity on the mandate – a big vote for mandates from an important body. Nedlac has recommended vaccine mandates in workplaces and said that gatherings, events and venues in the hospitality sector should only be accessible to vaccinated people. ☝🏽 The government said it supports Nedlac and President Ramaphosa said he’s still having discussions with various sectors. Meanwhile, the South African Federation of Trade Unions said though it encourages vaccination, it opposes vaccine mandates at workplaces and other sites, citing Constitutional concerns. AfriForum said the same. So, as usual, it’s up to the courts to make the final call. It’s going to be an interesting battle. 🥊

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 9 December 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.