People have been told to use condoms to protect themselves against HIV/Aids but many never heeded the call and were not excluded from anything in society.
The same should apply to people who elect not to have a Covid-19 vaccination.
That’s according to EFF leader Julius Malema during a conversation with the media on wide-ranging issues in Kagiso, on the West Rand, on Wednesday.
Malema’s comments come after various institutions of higher learning such as the University of Johannesburg (UJ) adopted mandatory vaccination as a policy for all prospective students this year.
UJ communicated late last year that all staff and students would have to declare their vaccination status before admission for the 2022 academic year.
“The UJ council at its meeting on 25 November 2021 resolved that all UJ campuses and facilities will be mandatory vaccination sites from 1 January 2022,” the university announced on December 6.
“This means that staff, postdoctoral research fellows and students will need to provide UJ with their vaccination status [first vaccination completed or fully vaccinated] before gaining access to any campus or facility. These measures also apply to ad hoc contractors, identified stakeholders and visitors.”
Malema said this stance was tantamount to “bullying” people to vaccinate against their will. And this, he added, was not befitting of a democracy in which freedom of choice is enshrined in the constitution to which all citizens pledge their allegiance and loyalty.
According to Malema, it was the communication incompetence of ANC government leaders that had led to vaccine hesitancy among people. But coercing people into getting the jab by blocking them from certain things such as university admission was not the solution.
As was the case with the encouragement of people to use condoms to avoid contracting HIV/Aids, the same approach should be employed with Covid-19 vaccines in giving people the freedom to choose.
“We are not going to allow anyone at universities to block our students, including staff, from entering and receiving education because they are not vaccinated,” said Malema. “We call upon all our people to get vaccinated and stop listening to conspiracy theories about vaccination.
“But it is a personal choice and we are in a democratic country. We have always said use condom but people still do not use condom and we do not say those who do not use condom will not enter here.”
Malema said “bullying people” will not make them take the Covid-19 shot — what was needed was pointed education on vaccines and their effectiveness against the virus.
“We need to persuade people. Democracy is about the power of persuasion. Let us persuade and convince people to vaccinate.
“The government lacks legitimacy and credibility and is led by mediocre [leaders] that cannot appeal to people to vaccinate and as a result they want to use bullying tactics to get people to vaccinate.”
Malema said the EFF was pro-vaccination, but through persuasion and not through intimidation.