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Mandatory Vaccination: Political parties firm on people’s constitutional rights to choose to vax or not to vax

To vax or not to vax? File Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

To vax or not to vax? File Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Dec 12, 2021

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DURBAN - SEVERAL political parties opposed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s move to make vaccinations mandatory in the country, saying that forcing anyone to vaccinate would be unconstitutional.

This comes after the Government Communications and Information System (GCIS) recently announced that Ramaphosa was awaiting a report from the task team and the Inter-Ministerial Council on the possible introduction of a vaccine mandate.

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The mandatory vaccination would be for specific activities and locations.

The GCIS said the president was expecting a turnaround time to be quick, but did not close the door on consultations.

“I will listen to that and, if need be, I will also be willing to engage with some of those constituencies,” said Ramaphosa.

On Thursday the NFP issued a statement calling on South Africans to reject “a forced vaccination as being pushed by Ramaphosa and his Cabinet”.

“We are not convinced that Ramaphosa’s insistence on mandatory vaccination is genuine as no scientific evidence has been provided thus far, convincing us or making us believe that forced vaccination is a solution,” said NFP secretary-general Canaan Mdletshe.

He said the Constitution was clear on an individual’s right to choose.

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“Getting vaccinated should be a choice one makes, and not mandatory.”

He said that if Ramaphosa was pushing for the people to be persuaded to vaccinate, the party would support that stance 100%.

“But he, like the apartheid regime, is choosing to force people to take a jab. This stance is barbaric. It’s uncalled for and unnecessary. Instead of encouraging people to vaccinate, mandatory vaccination might have serious and unintended consequences. It might cause people to stand up and revolt,” Mdletshe said.

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The DA’s spokesperson on health, Siviwe Gwarube, said they had always felt that instead of vaccine enforcement, South Africa should encourage vaccination and incentivise those who wanted to do so.

“We are also waiting to hear from the task team that has been given this responsibility to ascertain the feasibility of mandatory vaccines in South Africa,” she said.

Gwarube added that the 40% of South Africans who had been vaccinated only represented those who had heard the message of vaccination and who had shown a keen interest.

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“The low numbers in vaccination represent a failure in filling the vacuum of misinformation by the government.”

ActionSA provincial leader Dr Makhosi Khoza said that at a provincial level, engagements and consultations with the majority of its members showed that the state must respect the Constitution and go the route of persuasion.

Khoza said people were already dealing with enough – being “edgy, depressed, and unemployed”.

She said her party subscribed to the rule of law.

IFP national spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said they would not support mandatory vaccines, but would support terms and conditions where people would be able to exercise their rights and choices.

“A great example would be Nigeria, where if you go there you have to produce a card that confirms that you have been vaccinated against yellow fever.”

He added that rights came with responsibilities.

ADeC leader Visvin Reddy said the party was opposed to mandatory vaccination as it infringed on people’s rights.

“The same method used to convince the people to vote, is the same method that must be used to convince the people to vaccinate,” Reddy said.

Ernst Roets, the head of policy and action at AfriForum, said: “If we support state coercion with matters we personally agree on at the moment, we open the door for the state to be able to impose something on us in the future with which we may have a problem in principle.

“State coercion is and remains dangerous, regardless of its subject matter, and we should not be giving the government consent to use it in an increasingly expanded array of situations. Vaccine mandates are unjustifiable in a free society.”

Black First Land First leader Andile Mngxitama (BLF) leader Andile Mngxitama said mandatory vaccination was slavery as it violated a person’s rights to bodily autonomy.

“It's an insult to freedom and respect of the individual as it is unconstitutional. We vehemently oppose it,” he said.

He added that BLF would join any court application to oppose mandatory vaccinations, or would initiate a court challenge.

Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania leader Themba Godi said his party was also opposed to mandatory vaccination.

“We believe that the fight against the coronavirus must be multidisciplinary, i.e. using both pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical means like hand washing, masks, social distancing etc. However, forcing people to vaccinate is wrong and this is what leads to a reaction, resistance.”

Godi said if there was trust and unity between the government and the people, there would be no need for coercion.

The ANC and the EFF did not respond to questions on this matter by the time of publication.

Meanwhile, MTN, Standard Bank and Discovery announced they would implement mandatory vaccines for their employees in January next year.

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