Business for SA (B4SA), formed after the COVID-19 outbreak to assist the government with policy responses, said on Monday (10 January) it is pushing ahead for a high court declaratory order to provide legal certainty to companies wanting to introduce compulsory vaccines policies for staff.
“There has been no movement [on the court application]. We continue to work on the declaratory order and attach great significance to due process while accelerating vaccine mandates wherever possible,” B4SA chair Martin Kingston said, adding that they hope to file the papers in the coming weeks.
BusinessDay reports that estimates suggest only 25% of South Africans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Business believes inoculation rates have to be beefed up to stop or slow down the spread of the disease and prevent lockdowns, which threaten a deeper economic setback.
A presidential task team was recently established to look at mandatory vaccinations as well as to restrict access to public places to those who have been vaccinated.
A growing number of companies, including Discovery, Standard Bank and MultiChoice, have introduced mandatory vaccination policies, as have several universities, including Wits, the University of Cape Town, University of Johannesburg, the University of the Western Cape and the University of the Free State. But the government has yet to require its employees to get immunised.
Linda Meyer, a director of operations at Universities SA, which represents the countryʼs universities, had previously said that while no one could be forced by law to be vaccinated, tertiary institutions had a constitutional right and established rights, according to the Higher Education Act, to determine who may access their property.
The Student Union of SA has said a mandatory vaccination policy could lead to protests at universities
B4SA says it is encouraging that many social partners at Nedlac, the policy-making body comprising the government, communities, business and labour, including trade union federation Cosatu, now support vaccine mandates.
However, late in 2021, the National Employersʼ Association of SA (Neasa), a big employersʼ body, said it opposed vaccine mandates, and that B4SA “does not truly represent business in SA”.
In an open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa, Neasa CEO Gerhard Papenfus called [B4SA] a “self-appointed entity representing a small, albeit powerful, conglomerate of businesses, blatantly promoting the globalist, anti-SMME/anti-entrepreneurial, freedom-eroding agenda”.
“Do they really want to exclude 70%, the unvaccinated population of SA, from the mainstream economy?” he wrote. “Have they considered the impact of a potential defiance campaign, where people being denied their freedom or their right to earn a living, are forced to defy unreasonable legislative or regulatory demands?”
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