Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Tuesday told Parliament that signing non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) with most of the leading vaccine manufacturers when buying vaccines was to the benefit of South Africa.
Mkhize said that this allows the country to gain critical insight into the manufacturers’ “supply lines, their manufacturing plans, and possible blockages in the manufacturing pipeline”.
“It also allows us to pursue negotiations over prices, volumes and timelines for delivery,” said Mkhize.
He was addressing the National Assembly during the debate on the country’s vaccination programme.
“It is within these NDAs that certain other conditions come to light – among these have been the principles of indemnity to be provided by the government to its citizens for any adverse effects arising from vaccinations.”
He said some companies have required the government to “create a no-fault compensation fund as an expression of such indemnity”.
“Having consulted a number of other countries it has become clear that these conditions are standard across the globe. Our signing of the final agreements has required we thoroughly consult with the national treasury to provide guidance so that all relevant legislation is upheld before final agreements are signed.”
Mkhize said that this process has proven to be quite onerous because the country finds itself in a situation for which there is no precedent.
He said when all the contracts have been signed they will be made available to the treasury and the Auditor-General’s office for their perusal.
Mkhize addressed the issue of non-disclosure agreements to correct the “erroneous impression that there are questions that we are avoiding because of the NDAs”.
“Rather, it should be understood that NDAs must be respected in order to protect the process of timely acquisition of vaccines.”