AfriForum heads to court over government’s Covid-19 vaccine roll-out plan
By IOL Reporter 29m ago
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DURBAN – Afriforum and Solidarity will head to court on March 2 over government's implementation plan for Covid-19 vaccines.
The case is against the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, and the Minister of Co-operative Governance, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, AfriForum's Ernst van Zyl said on Wednesday.
In their court papers, AfriForum and Solidarity argue that the government’s vaccine roll-out plan is unconstitutional. According to these organisations, the government is deliberately excluding the private sector by not allowing the private sector to buy, roll out or administer vaccines itself.
The two institutions further argue that the need for vaccines is urgent. However, the state’s centralisation of vaccines is delaying the roll-out process.
Van Zyl said government’s refusal to provide clarity to AfriForum and Solidarity about its plans to monopolise the procurement and roll-out of vaccines proves that it considers it more important to consolidate its power rather than to save lives.
"Clearly, what we are dealing with here is a government that attaches little value to transparency and whose promises of dialogue with the public and of considering comments are only lip service," he said.
Solidarity Research Institute head, Connie Mulder, said the answer for a fast and efficient roll-out of the vaccine does not lie in its nationalisation.
"After its repeated failures, confidence levels in the government are low, and with reason. The very government that stole emergency funds during a pandemic will not be trusted to manage the vaccine process properly.
“If we have to wait for the government to procure vaccines all by itself, we are going to wait for years – something we as private citizens simply cannot afford. The private sector must be enabled to be involved in the procurement and roll-out of vaccines," Mulder said.
This court case has been brought to prevent the government’s plans to centralise the vaccine process.
The two institutions are requesting the court to give an order that the private sector may indeed buy vaccines.
The organisations contend that speed is the key factor when it comes to vaccines. Rather than having one plan for millions of people, what is needed is many plans made by many people, AfriForum and Solidarity believe.
"Nobody is saying that the government should not buy vaccines – of course the government has to buy vaccines for the public health sector. We just feel strongly that the state’s role should be limited to being one of many role-players in the procurement and roll-out of vaccines.
“We are therefore not arguing that the government has no role to play, but that it should not be the only role-player. Without the private sector also buying vaccines, the situation is rife for corruption and inefficiency," Mulder added.
The two organisations are asking the court to declare the government’s roll-out plan unconstitutional and to declare that any institution outside the government framework will have the right to procure and administer vaccines.
Mulder said the government is acting outside its powers.
"We cannot allow it to proclaim a monopoly that denies other institutions and bodies the rights enabling them to procure vaccines. The government is not to be trusted. Its plans and strategies have a history of failure and corruption. Where people’s lives are at stake the government should enable the private sector to step in to address the problem rather than trying to control it in its inability," Mulder said.