MTN Group, the largest pan-African telecommunications operator, said on Monday that it plans to implement a Covid-19 vaccine mandate.
“As part of our 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, MTN Group will be implementing a mandatory vaccination policy for staff from January 2022,” it said in a statement.
The move comes after Discovery, South Africa’s largest health insurance company, recently became the first large JSE-listed company to mandate vaccines for employees.
“The science is clear. Vaccination against Covid-19 reduces rates of serious infections, hospitalisation and death,” said MTN CEO Ralph Mupita. “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.
“Our new Covid-19 policy recognises that some of our markets don’t have adequate access to vaccines. It also recognises some low-risk roles that will be accommodated with full-time work-from-home or alternate arrangements, but this will be a small population within our workforce.”
The vaccine mandate is subject to risk assessment and local laws that apply to the group and its operating companies and subsidiaries, it said.
“It also recognises the right of employees to apply to be exempted from the policy and/or refuse vaccination on certain clearly defined grounds. For those staff who are not exempt from vaccinations, either through risk assessment or agreed exclusions but still refuse vaccination, MTN will not be obliged to continue the employment contract.”
At the same time, Mupita criticised development countries that have imposed travel bans on Southern African nations over the emergence of the Omicron variant of Covid-10.
These bans 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 Covid-19.”