Sunday, 26 May, 2024
HomeSouth AfricaDA and Mkhize square up over vaccine delivery and sourcing

DA and Mkhize square up over vaccine delivery and sourcing

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will the government seven days to provide details and information of its vaccine rollout strategy, failing which the opposition party will approach the courts, while Health Minister said the DA-controlled Western Cape had no authority to source its own vaccine supplies.

Business Day reports that  DA leader John Steenhuisen said President Cyril Ramaphosa had made “vague promises” about vaccine deliveries. “Even if these orders did exist, we have no idea which companies they’re supposed to be coming from, when they’ll get here, how much we’re paying for them, whether they’re single or multidose vaccines, who will get them first and how they will be stored and distributed,” he said. “If government can’t tell us any of these things, we have no reason to believe that they have indeed secured these orders.”

The government has been under fire for failing to procure sufficient vaccines as a matter of urgency. Steenhuisen said the DA’s lawyers had written to Ramaphosa setting out how the government’s strategy did not meet the constitutional requirements for a comprehensive vaccine rollout programme, in that it violated several constitutional provisions, such as the right to access to healthcare services.

The DA also took issue with the Treasury’s consideration to raise taxes as one of several possible mechanisms to fund the vaccination drive. DA finance spokesperson Geordin Hill-Lewis said the proposal was “callous” and showed insensitivity to the financial suffering of many families at this time. “The total cost of a comprehensive vaccine rollout is estimated at just over R15bn at most. This amount would be comfortably affordable for the government, were it to reprioritise wasteful programmes and cancel wasteful bailouts. The admission that tax hikes must be considered now is an admission that the government did no forward planning for the vaccine rollout last year,” he said.

 

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said the government would act as the sole procurer of the vaccine to prevent corruption and fraud, News24 reports. He said government would make announcements about agreements with vaccine suppliers soon.

The report notes there is tension between the national government and the Western Cape government, with the latter saying it will continue its attempts to source additional vaccines. ‘I am aware of discussions that took place,” Mkhize said. “No province has the authority to conclude agreements with manufacturers.”

Dr Angelique Coetzee, of the SA Medical Association, said the central procurement decision “is the first step towards the planned National Health Insurance scheme”. She said the private sector would have to keep a close watch over the process.

“There is nothing we can do about the government being the sole procurer. That is what is going to happen. The government would, however, have to improve its credibility after previous scandals.”

 

An analyst says, however, that the DA’s case against the vaccine inaction is ‘weak’. While the DA is preparing to take the government to court over its alleged failure to timeously secure the COVID-19 vaccine and for its inadequate roll-out strategy, a political analyst believes it would be difficult for the opposition party to prove negligence.

According to a report in The Citizen, political analyst Ralph Mathekga said it would be difficult to convince a judge of the failure on the part of government if there was no policy. “Remember, you have to prove there was administrative negligence, that a policy was decided upon but it was implemented in a way that constituted administrative negligence. The government could easily say this was not part of their policy and therefore we could not be blamed for it,” he said.

 

[link url="https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/2021-01-18-da-threatens-to-go-to-court-if-full-details-of-vaccine-rollout-plan-are-not-provided/"]Full Business Day report[/link]

 

[link url="https://www.news24.com/news24/SouthAfrica/News/mkhize-warns-of-corruption-middlemen-wanted-to-charge-us-4-times-more-for-covid-19-vaccine-20210115"]Full News24 report (subscription needed)[/link]

 

[link url="https://citizen.co.za/news/south-africa/politics/2421865/da-court-action-will-fail/"]Full report in The Citizen[/link]

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