The two organizations say they are seeking to prevent the ‘potential abuse of government power’ as it relates to the buying and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.
Trade union Solidarity and civil society group AfriForum are pursuing legal action against what they is the government’s proposed ‘monopoly’ on acquiring and distributing Covid-19 vaccines.
The two organizations said they want to ensure that those who seek to get the vaccine in South Africa are not obstructed from doing so by “government incompetence or corruption.”
On Thursday, Health minister Zweli Mkhize said the government will be the sole purchaser of vaccines for the country, adding that the Department of Health will contract with suppliers to purchase stock and allocate it to provincial health departments and the private health sector.
AfriForum say the government cannot have a monopoly on deciding who receives the vaccine and who does not.
“Throughout the lockdown period the government has proven that when it has a monopoly on Covid-19 related policies and tasks, corruption and inefficiency tend to be rampant.”
The two groups believe that enabling the private sector to purchase and distribute Covid-19 vaccines “would allow for better efficiency in distributing the vaccine to those who want it; preventing the abuse of power by the government; as well as ensuring that government incompetence or corruption does not derail the process.”
Mkhize said South Africa will be receiving 1,000,000 vaccine doses in January and 500,000 doses in February from the Serum Institute of India (SII).
“AfriForum, therefore, seeks to prevent the potential abuse of government power as it relates to the buying and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, by fighting to allow the private sector to assist in this endeavour,” said Ernst van Zyl, campaign officer for Strategy and Content at AfriForum.
Connie Mulder, head of the Solidarity Research Institute, said South Africa cannot allow the “nationalisation of vaccines.”
The state has a history of failures and South-Africa cannot afford another failure during this crisis, he said.
Mkhize said government will be the sole purchaser of the vaccines for the country and that the Department of Health will contract with suppliers to purchase stock and allocate it to provincial health departments and the private health sector.
“To deal with the pandemic, the only protection is through vaccination,” Mkhize added.
“In terms of the department’s calculation, we need 67-70% of the population to be immunised to break the cycle of transmission – what is called the herd immunity.”
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