In an interview with eNCA, South African epidemiologist and WHO science council member Prof Salim Abdool Karim, argued that the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic now means that the option to take a vaccine is no longer a personal choice. “It has to be that for the public good that there is a vaccine mandate.”
But can the government really require it? Apparently yes, at least in theory. Recently South African Health Minister, Joe Phaahla, confirmed that his department is discussing the introduction of mandatory Covid-19 vaccines. However, mandatory vaccines would raise serious constitutional issues around bodily integrity and religious beliefs. Although allowances would be made for those with strong medical or religious reasons, Phaahla emphasises that no official decision has been made, and expresses doubt that the government will ever go that far.
A more likely avenue would have business requiring vaccines of their employees, as there is strong legal and constitutional precedent for implementing measures to secure a safe and healthy workplace, especially in the face of a pandemic. However, The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has entered the fray, stating that compelling people to get vaccinated against their will would be a violation of human rights.
Former Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, is facing perjury charges.
A summons has been issued for her to appear in a Gauteng court in September. Dlamini presided over the SASSA grants fiasco in 2017, when SASSA’s assumed grant payments in house, after the illegal contact with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), expired in March 2017. Her insistence that CPS, and only CPS, was capable of managing grant payments stalled the transition process and nearly resulted in the interruption of the sole income for millions of South Africans.
In 2018, Dlamini allegedly gave false evidence under oath during an inquiry into the social grants payments. A subsequent Constitutional Court judgement found that the report from the inquiry “strongly suggested” that Dlamini lied under oath, and then forwarded the matter to National Director of Public Prosecutions, who determined that Dlamini should be prosecuted for perjury. The Black Sash Trust and the Centre for Applied Legal studies have welcomed the news, saying, "this decision sends the message that everyone is equal before the law, and public officials must be held accountable for their actions."
Stats SA reports the 2nd quarter unemployment rose to a record 34.4%, up almost 2% from the 1st quarter. This figure places South Africa with the highest unemployment rate of the 82 countries tracked by Bloomberg. According to the expanded definition, which includes those who have given up even looking for work, unemployment stands at a shocking 44.4%.
Key takeaways include:
Ongoing disruption from Covid-19, government austerity measures, persistent inequality, and ineffective economic policies are all seen as contributing to these dismal numbers.
According to Bloomberg, the unemployment data is likely to deteriorate further in the third quarter due in part to the disruption from the July unrest in Gauteng and Kwa-Zulu Natal.
South Africa has made significant progress towards achieving gender equality since 1956, when 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings on 9th August in protest against the extension of Pass Laws to women. However, it is equally clear that inequality still exists in employment and educational opportunities.