Court date set to contest vaccine strategy – AfriForum/Solidarity

Govt deliberately excluding private sector from process, say organisations

Court date set to contest the government’s vaccine strategy

27 January 2021

AfriForum and Solidarity will be in court on 2 March in its court case against the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, and the Minister of Cooperative Governance, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, over the government’s implementation plan for COVID-19 vaccines.

In their court papers AfriForum and Solidarity argue that the government’s vaccine rollout plan is unconstitutional. According to these organisations, the government is deliberately excluding the private sector by not allowing the private sector to buy, rollout 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 rollout process.

“The government’s refusal to provide clarity to AfriForum and Solidarity about its plans to monopolise the procurement and rollout 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,” Ernst van Zyl, campaign official for strategy and content at AfriForum, said.

“The answer for a fast and efficient rollout 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 rollout of vaccines,” Connie Mulder, head of the Solidarity Research Institute (SRI) 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, we need millions of plans made by millions of 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 rollout 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 stated.

The two organisations are asking the court to declare the government’s rollout plan unconstitutional and to declare that any institution outside the government framework will have the right to procure and administer vaccines.

“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 concluded.

Issued by Andrea van Wyk, Media Relations Officer, AfriForum, 27 January 2021