Farmers have vowed to assist farmworkers in registering for phase two of Mzansi’s Covid-19 vaccine roll-out. This, as government has set a target of vaccinating at least 5.5 million people over the age of 60.
Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize reiterated that in-person registrations will be done at certain facilities, including old-age homes, to accommodate those without internet access.
Concerned farmers, however, tell Food For Mzansi that many of their workers are struggling to register online. Those interested in receiving the free jab, must register on an appointment system called the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS).
Doug Osler, a farmer and managing director of Lone Tree Farms near Fouriesburg in the Free State, confirms that he will be assisting workers and their families with registering.
“The challenge in rural communities is access to information and resources. We will help [workers] with the online registration. We … will continue to assist the local clinic, if they require a space on the farm as a vaccination facility to do the vaccinations.”
Employee health is non-negotiable
“It’s a must that us, as farmers, help our employees to get vaccinated,” declares Ratlale Masiu, who farms with cattle near Bloemfontein in the Free State.
“Remember, [human] capital is the backbone of every standing business. If it means we should meet government and the health department halfway to get our workers vaccinated, let it be.”
Meanwhile Western Cape farmer grain farmer Alfreda Mars confirms that she too will be assist her workers.
However, she reiterates that the decision to get vaccinated, ultimately lies with them.
“Most definitely, I will support the workers, because vaccinating is important for their health. It is [still] not a compulsory decision.”
Wine farmer Philip Jonker also believes that he has a role to play in assisting his workers. Jonker is the owner and fourth-generation winemaker of the Weltevrede Estate between Bonnievale and Robertson, also in the Western Cape.
Nick Serfontein, a cattle farmer from Edenville in the Free State, tells Food For Mzansi that the health of his workers has always been important to the Sernick Group. “We always assist our workers [with health-related issues]. I will present it [the vaccination registration drive] in our meeting [today].”