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President Ramaphosa expects update from vaccine mandate task team on Wednesday

President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Maja Hitij / Pool)

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the task team on vaccine mandates should be active and is due to update the National Coronavirus Command Council this week.

The task team leading consultations on a possible vaccine mandate is scheduled to brief the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) when it meets this week, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday.

“The task team is meant to be active and, when the NCCC meets, I’m expecting a report from the task team that we set up, as well as a report from the interministerial committee,” said the president shortly before leaving Ghana during his week-long trip to west Africa.

He is due to return to South Africa on Wednesday and will go straight into an NCCC meeting over the rising number of Covid-19 cases and the spread of the Omicron variant.

Ramaphosa announced the task team during his 28 November address, saying it would consult different sectors of society on introducing mandatory vaccinations for specific activities and locations.

This weekend, the Sunday Times reported that there was confusion over whether the task team had been established.

On Sunday, Ramaphosa urged the task team to act with urgency, but warned there could be delays in deciding on vaccine mandates due to extensive consultations.

“I’ve said that I want this to happen very quickly because, with the rising wave of infections, I need to act quickly so that Cabinet can take a decision on this matter,” said the president.

“Of course, it could all be slowed down by the intensity of consultations and talking to various sectors of our society.

“I expect the [timeline] to be fairly quick and we’ll allow a report that says, ‘We are consulting. We will meet this constituency and that constituency.’ I’ll listen to that and, if need be, I’ll also be willing to engage with some of those constituencies.”

Asked about his own view on vaccine mandates, Ramaphosa said: “We live in a country where people have a number of strong views for and against, and my task as a leader is to march everyone in the same direction and, through the dialogue that I said we should have, I hope we get everyone to move in a direction where we will all be aware as South Africans about the dangers of not being vaccinated.

“I believe very strongly in vaccinations and vaccination is our strongest weapon against Covid-19. I believe that we should give our people a chance so they can go through this and see the dangers of not being vaccinated.”

The issue of vaccine mandates is also scheduled to be discussed at the National Economic Development and Labour Council’s annual summit on Tuesday.

South Africa recorded 11,125 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday and a positivity rate of 23.8%. DM

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