No one can be forced to be vaccinated. That’s the word from President Cyril Ramaphosa who warned on Friday that forced vaccination was a no-no.
He said the Department of Employment and Labour had issued directives to companies on the vaccination programme for workers.
He was commenting amid reports that some companies were forcing their work force to be vaccinated.
Discovery is among those reported to be introducing mandatory vaccines for its workers. The mass vaccination programme for employees of the company is set to start in January next year.
Ramaphosa said the Constitution ensures the rights of individuals, but that must be balanced with the rights of the population.
He said when the lockdown was implemented last year March, they had to curtail some of the rights enshrined in the Constitution including the right of assembly.
This was intended to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and it worked because infections declined.
He said the use of vaccines was one instrument government had to fight coronavirus. Ramaphosa said they need to vaccinate as many people as possible to reach herd immunity.
“Our health services would be overrun and we have seen that when we had spikes due to infections. The directives issued by the Department of Employment and Labour take into account a number of conditionalities or set out a number of conditionalities, and these are very much in line with our Constitutional architecture that we have got to respect the rights of others,” he said.
Ramaphosa said that in ensuring that the rights of the entire population are also upheld, “there are various steps that we need to take.”
“This is precisely what we are saying to various companies that should you encounter a situation where certain workers don’t want to be vaccinated there are various steps that you need to take in respect of their rights, but also dealing with them in a humane manner hoping they will be encouraged in the end to be vaccinated so that they can save the lives of their own families and the lives of their co-workers,” he said.