On Sunday President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that a task team will be set up to determine if Covid-19 vaccinations need to be made mandatory.
The president's announcement was made under the cloud of a number of travel bans imposed upon South Africa by countries after the discovery of the Omicron variant. The travel bans could cost the economy more than a billion rand as tourists cancel their festive season trips to South Africa.
Despite the travel bans, the local economy is still hoping to recover some revenue that was lost during the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. Leaders in the tourism and hospitality industry have pleaded for no more lockdowns which could inflict further damage on the country's economy. The role of covid-19 vaccinations may play a crucial role in keeping the country's economy open.
Midday Mali from taxi union SANTACO says they will not oppose the president's announcement. He says the government is well resourced and has access to the relevant information and expertise.
However, Mali says the task team set up to investigate mandatory vaccination must engage with all the relevant stakeholders. He explains that this will ensure that everyone understands how mandatory vaccination laws will work should they be implemented.
He said, “we want to urge our government to let them consult us properly as an industry because we are fair in the number of commuters in our vehicles. We also employ a number of people in our business as taxi operators. So therefore we needed to be engaged so that we understand everything, we go hand-in-hand with the government”.
The National Taxi Alliance (NTA) spokesperson, Theo Malele says if the government wants mandatory vaccinations, they will support it. He says the organisation he represents will advise its drivers to do the right thing and get vaccinated. This is a hope to return to some sort of normality.
Malele said, “this needs a collective effort. We should all hold hands as citizens of the country and ensure that we do the right thing so that we can all go back to our normal life”. He believes many taxi drivers will be open to the idea as the organisation has conducted successful Covid-19 vaccination drives at key taxi ranks in the country.