Mandatory vaccinations in Parly spotlight as MPs seek clarity from Health Dept

Deputy Health Minister Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo was quizzed by members of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on the introduction of a vaccine mandate.

An education department employee gets a COVID-19 vaccine shot at the Rabasotho community hall in Tembisa on 23 June 2021. Picture: Xanderleigh Dookey Makhaza/Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN - Vaccine mandates have come under the spotlight in Parliament as political parties express their views on the possibility of a vaccine policy.

Deputy Health Minister Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo was quizzed by members of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Tuesday on the introduction of a vaccine mandate.

He was responding to questions in the NCOP as part of the social and health cluster.

Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo was put on the spot by NCOP members, who grilled the deputy minister on the department’s readiness to deal with the new Omicron variant and the incoming fourth wave.

Members also wanted clarity on a vaccine mandate which was mentioned by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday.

But Dhlomo said that the country must decide if unvaccinated people should rather just stay home.

"Let’s discuss as South Africans whether we should not say, 'good enough, it’s your individual right to refuse to vaccinate, but please do stay at home and not meet with us when we are in the taxi, when we are in the stadia and when we are in the church because we would want to be protected.'"

The IFP’s Mkhuleko Hlengwa told Eyewitness News that his party’s leadership would be discussing the matter when it meets this week.

"Given the complexities of the matter including that we need to look at the constitutional aspects, the IFP NEC is scheduled to meet on Friday this week to look at all the issues and thrash out a position."

Government has set up a task team that will consult broadly on making vaccination mandatory for specific activities and locations.