Limpopo Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba has announced that engagement between government and businesses in the liquor industry has begun concerning vaccinations. Ramthuba believes that the engagement regarding vaccines, with the liquor industry, could benefit both the Department of Health and the Liquor traders.
Ramathuba said that liquor sales are banned when there is a new wave of coronavirus infections in the country. She explained that when there is a surge in cases, “We as the department of health are the first to make a call can the president regulate and ban alcohol”.
The MEC explained that alcohol trauma cases disturb and hinder hospitals’ ability to deal with Covid-19 cases. She believes that there is an opportunity to avert the fourth wave of coronavirus infections by vaccinating members of the public.
Ramathuba is asking the alcohol industry to “look into your situation wherever you are to say if you are not vaccinated we will not sell you alcohol because we want all our customers to be vaccinated because if customers are not vaccinated we're going to get into the fourth wave”.
She cautioned that “when we get into the fifth wave, the first thing that we're going to ask the president to do is to ban alcohol. it's up to the industry to decide whether they accept our proposals or not”.
“We can open stadiums today and then for you to access the stadium you must be vaccinated. We will propose all that, we're not saying it's law, it’s our wish and we are saying maybe if we are to do these things this way, we can get all the Limpopo people vaccinated and get into the herd immunity and the country go back to normal” added Ramathuba.
Legal expert Nthabiseng Dubazana said that there are several legal implications concerning the MEC’s proposal. She explained that if liquor traders decide not to allow customers into their outlets, they could be imposing on a person’s right to movement which is enshrined in the bill of rights.
Dubazana explained that if liquor outlets require proof of vaccination they could impose on a person’s right to privacy. “We're looking at the situation of my health status. Are you then saying that I have to now divulge my health status, which is my right to privacy? I get to choose whom I tell about my health situation now you are forcing me as government to divulge my health status in one form or another”.
Dubazana says that she is sure that if the proposal to make vaccines mandatory is signed into law, it will be challenged in court and could go up to the level of the constitutional court. “The constitutional court will then have to decide if the law is a justifiable limitation of a person's rights in terms of Section 36 of the constitution or they will side with the individual and say that there are too many rights being trampled upon by this by this law and therefore has been deemed unconstitutional” she concluded.