Business Leadership South Africa chief executive officer Busi Mavuso. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Compulsory Covid-19 vaccinations are necessary to protect the economy from crippling lockdowns and to save jobs, the Johannesburg-based Sunday Times newspaper reported, citing Business Leadership South Africa chief executive officer Busi Mavuso.

Business, labor and community partners have submitted proposals on vaccine mandates to the National Economic Development and Labour Council after President Cyril Ramaphosa said the government will form a task force to look into making vaccines compulsory for people to access some areas and engage in some activities.

South African scientists identified the new omicron variant in November, setting off alarm bells around the world and sending financial markets into a tailspin. The UK, European Union, US and other countries announced travel bans on South Africa and its neighbors, dealing yet another flow to their beleaguered economies.

The government has been slow to outline and legislate mandatory vaccination, according to Keymanthri Moodley, a bioethics expert at the Stellenbosch University.

It’s concerning that a study group wasn’t set up earlier and that political expediency was prioritized over public health and safety, she said in the Sunday Times report.

South Africa has had more than 3 million confirmed coronavirus infections, the most on the continent, with 16,366 new cases reported on Saturday, and a test positivity rate that accelerated to 23.8% from 9.2% a week ago.

Vaccination coverage has increase since the discovery of the omicron variant, with 43% of South African adults fully vaccinated as of Dec. 4 compared to 36% a week before.

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