MTN, Africa’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, has joined a growing group of corporates that will enforce mandatory Covid-19 vaccination policies for staff from 2022.
The company has also condemned travel restrictions on African countries. With Covid-19 cases escalating due to the newly discovered Omicron variant.
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said last week that the government was considering making vaccinations compulsory for certain activities, events and spaces.
Ramaphosa had applauded corporates that had already put such mandatory measures in place.
Earlier in 2021, Discovery, led by Adrian Gore, became the first large corporate to do so.
Most recently, Standard Bank introduced its own vaccination policy last week, which requires all employees who work from the bank’s premises to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
The policy, which will be implemented starting in South Africa, will come into effect in April.
On Monday, MTN said it would be implementing a mandatory vaccination policy for staff from January 2022, as part of its commitment “to protect the health and safety of our people and workplaces, as well as contribute towards the rate of Covid-19 vaccinations across our markets”.
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MTN operates in 19 countries, having recently exited its operations in Syria and Yemen.
“The science is clear. Vaccination against Covid-19 reduces rates of serious infections, hospitalisation and death,” MTN group CEO Ralph Mupita said.
“As an employer, we have a responsibility to ensure that our workplaces are guided by the highest standards of health and safety, and that has informed our decision to make Covid-19 vaccination mandatory for our staff,” he said.
MTN said the policy was also part of its legal obligations in regard to providing a safe workplace and would be subject to risk assessment and local laws that apply in its various operating companies and subsidiaries.
While making vaccination mandatory, the group said it also recognised the right of employees to apply “to be exempted from the policy and/or refuse vaccination on certain clearly defined grounds”.
The mobile operator also condemned the recent targeted travel bans that have been implemented by a number of countries against the Southern Africa region, including SA, where the new variant was first discovered in late November.
“The latest travel bans on African countries by developed nations are not based on science, are unjust and add to the lack of support for Africa that is much needed for an effective global response to the pandemic.
African countries are being punished for the very transparency that’s actually needed to successfully combat the impact on lives and livelihoods of the Covid-19 virus,” Mupita said.