In Discovery’s footsteps: MTN to implement Covid-19 mandate from 2022

As the newly discovered Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus drives a surge in infections, mandatory vaccination has been at the centre of debate. In a recent interview with BizNews founder Alec Hogg, Sakeliga’s CEO Piet le Roux and chief economist Russell Lamberti (watch here) expressed their concerns with regard to mandatory vaccines, with Le Roux suggesting a voluntary vaccination instead of the proposed mandatory route. “I think we need to understand that we know less than we think and we should be accommodating other people in South Africa, other businesses and let them adopt strategies that solve the problems at their level.” On the other end of the argument is Adrian Gore, CEO and founder of the Discovery Group. The SA-based insurance company made headlines earlier this year with its decision to implement a company-wide vaccine mandate. “For sure, there is some risk and there are some side effects [to the vaccine] in the extreme. But the trade-off between that and the effect of not being vaccinated is so stark that we really don’t have a choice. I think societies have choices to make based on rationality. There are trade-offs in that [as with everything we do].” MyBroadband reports telecommunications giant MTN has followed in the steps of Discovery, with a mandatory Covid-19 vaccination policy being implemented for staff from 2022. CEO Ralph Mupita said, “As an employer, we have a responsibility to ensure our workplaces are guided by the highest standards of health and safety, and that has informed our decision to make Covid-19 vaccination mandatory for our staff.” Read the original article, MTN announces Covid-19 vaccine mandate, here. – Jarryd Neves

MTN announces Covid-19 vaccine mandate

By Jan Vermeulen*

MTN says that it will implement a mandatory vaccination policy for staff from January 2022, as part of its commitment to protect the health and safety of its people and workplaces, and contribute towards the rate of Covid-19 vaccinations across its markets in Africa.

“The science is clear. Vaccination against Covid-19 reduces rates of serious infections, hospitalisation, and death,” said MTN Group President and CEO Ralph Mupita.

“As an employer, we have a responsibility to ensure that our workplaces are guided by the highest standards of health and safety, and that has informed our decision to make Covid-19 vaccination mandatory for our staff.”

The policy will be subject to risk assessment and local laws that apply to the MTN Group, and its operating companies and subsidiaries.

It also recognises the right of employees to apply to be exempted from the policy and refuse vaccination on certain clearly defined grounds.

For those staff who are not exempt from vaccinations either through risk assessment or agreed exclusions but still refuse vaccination, MTN will not be obliged to continue the employment contract.

Mupita said that MTN’s new Covid-19 policy recognises that some of its markets don’t have adequate access to vaccines.

“It also recognises some low-risk roles that will be accommodated with full-time work-from-home or alternate arrangements, but this will be a small population within our workforce,” he stated.

“Vaccine equity continues to be a major issue for African countries. As MTN, we add our voice to the calls for more vaccines to be made available to African countries, as herd immunity will only happen when the whole globe has reached a sufficient level of Covid-19 vaccination.”

Mupita spoke out against travel bans on African countries by developed nations, saying that the bans are not based on science, are unjust, and add to the lack of support for Africa that is much needed for an effective global response to the pandemic.

“African countries are being punished for the very transparency that’s actually needed to successfully combat the impact on lives and livelihoods of the Covid-19 virus,” said Mupita.

The latest data shows that across the continent, only 7% of Africans have been fully vaccinated. This compares with a global population vaccination rate of 55%.

“The fight against Covid-19 needs a global, comprehensive and equitable allocation of vaccines,” Mupita said.

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