Court challenge aims to stop ‘nationalisation’ of Covid-19 vaccines in South Africa

 ·8 Jan 2021

Trade union Solidarity and civil society group AfriForum will bring legal action against the government’s proposed ‘monopoly’ on the buying and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.

The two organisations said that they want to ensure that those who seek to get the vaccine are not obstructed from doing so by government mismanagement or corruption.

AfriForum said that the government cannot have a monopoly on deciding who receives the vaccine and who does not.

Allowing the private sector to purchase and distribute Covid-19 vaccines would allow for better efficiency regarding distributing the vaccine to those who want it, to prevent abuse of power by the government, as well as to ensure that government incompetence or corruption does not derail the process, it said.

“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.

“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 that 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.

On Thursday, Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said that South Africa will be receiving 1,000,000 doses in January and 500,000 doses in February from the Serum Institute of India (SII).

Mkhize said that the South African 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 to provincial health departments and the private health sector.

“To deal with the pandemic, the only protection is through vaccination,” Mkhize said. “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.”

Read: South Africa’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout plan: who gets it, what it costs, and how government says it will work

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