AfriForum said on Monday it would oppose any decision by the government to make vaccines mandatory.
In a letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa, AfriForum said vaccine mandates were unjustifiable violations of personal freedoms.
This is in response to the president’s address to the nation on Sunday night, where he said the government had set up a task team that will undertake broad consultations on making vaccination mandatory for specific activities and locations.
In the letter, AfriForum highlights how Ramaphosa had previously, in February, said: “I want to be clear, nobody will be forced to take this vaccine, I want to repeat, nobody will be forced to take this vaccine. Nobody will be forbidden from travelling to wherever they want to travel to, including from enrolling at school, or from taking part in any public activity if they have not been vaccinated.”
Ernst Roets of AfriForum said: “On the basis of the principle of freedom of choice and constitutional right to bodily autonomy, if the government implements vaccine mandates, AfriForum will take the necessary steps to oppose them.
“If we support state coercion with matters we personally agree on at the moment, we open the door for the state to be able to impose something on us in the future with which we ourselves may have a problem in principle.”
Roets said coercion was dangerous, “regardless of its subject matter”.
“We should not be giving the government consent to use it in an increasingly expanded array of situations. Vaccine mandates are unjustifiable in a free society,” he said.
Meanwhile, Cosatu has welcomed Ramaphosa’s updates and supported a possible mandatory vaccines policy.
“We must equally be honest and realistic and accept that these measures alone are not enough. We now need collectively as society to engage on requiring vaccinations to enter public spaces, malls, restaurants, events, sports and so on
“Cosatu has received many complaints from retail workers, prison wardens and teachers who have been vaccinated and fear for their safety as some of their colleagues have not been vaccinated.
“The constitution, the supreme law of the republic, is clear that the right to life is absolute,” said the union.
The organisation added that the retail, hospitality and tourism sectors, which employ almost 2-million workers, cannot afford another festive season under lockdown.
“Cosatu is disappointed that government did not reduce public gatherings numbers from the 750 indoors and 2,000 outdoors. These should be reviewed and only allowed for events where the necessary vaccinations, health and safety measures are in place.”