Mandatory vaccine policy heading to ConCourt: Thulas Nxesi
Labour minister Thulas Nxesi says an organisation representing businesses is heading to the Constitutional Court to seek a declaratory order on mandatory vaccination to ensure that whatever decision the government and businesses take is within the constitutional prescript.
He said this will help businesses and the government take a balanced approach.
“We are a country with rights — there is going to be a debate about individual vs collective rights. So the constitution will be able to guide us ... because if you take that decision [forcing people to vaccinate] and someone jumps to the court.”
Nxesi was responding to questions at the annual National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) summit, where he revealed that Nedlac is supporting Business Unity SA (Busa)'s decision to approach the apex court.
He said President Cyril Ramaphosa has also emphasised that the issue of vaccination is linked to economic recovery.
Nxesi said Nedlac believes that the promotion of vaccines remains the most significant intervention to prevent the further spread of Covid-19 and lockdowns.
Due to vaccine hesitancy, a number of companies including Discovery, Old Mutual, MTN, Sanlam and some universities have implemented mandatory vaccination for their employees from January 2022. Discovery said last week 94% of its employees have already been vaccinated.
So far, 36.8% of SA's adult population is fully vaccinated.
Nxesi said Nedlac's social partners have proposed that the health and safety direction of the department of employment and labour should be strengthened so that vaccination can become mandatory where a risk assessment at the workplace requires this.
They also said that access to certain venues, gatherings and events, particularly in the hospitality sector, should be restricted to vaccinated people only.
Moreover, regulations on maximum capacity of gatherings/venues/events should be simplified, provision of ventilation added and enforcement strengthened so that social distancing can be adhered to.
“While the social partners believe that vaccine mandates will pass constitutional scrutiny, they support the work of Busa to get a declarator from the Constitutional Court in the new year,” he said.
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