Marizka Coetzer
Journalist
2 minute read
2 Mar 2021
11:24 am

AfriForum, Solidarity facilitating talks to help private companies buy vaccines

Marizka Coetzer

AfriForum says government has admitted in court papers there is no legal restriction on the private sector from purchasing vaccines.

Anton van der Bijl, head of law at Solidarity, Dr Dirk Hermann, Solidarity chief Executive, AfriForum CEO, Kalie Kriel and Ernst van Zyl campaign officer for strategy and content at AfriForum. Picture: Marizka Coetzer

AfriForum has confirmed it has had discussions with stakeholders to privately secure Covid-19 vaccines after the government apparently conceded the private sector may purchase and distribute vaccines.

During a media briefing on Tuesday morning, the civil rights group announced the government had admitted under oath in court documents there was no legal restriction barring the private sector from purchasing Covid-19 vaccines.

“The state has a history of failure. The SAA  has fallen, Eskom turned off our lights, municipalities are bankrupt and Denel cannot pay their employees’ salaries. The government does not have the ability to manage the vaccine process themselves. This includes the purchasing of vaccines,” said Dr Dirk Hermann, chief operations officer of Solidarity.

“The private sector must be involved with the full vaccine value chain – from procurement to the administering of the vaccine. To ensure this, Solidarity and AfriForum approached the court to prevent the nationalisation of the vaccine process.”

Hermann said there was no legal certainty that the private sector may purchase and distribute vaccines – a huge setback for looters.

“The fact that it is taking legal action to force the government to answer important questions about an urgent matter that can save lives proves how little value the government really attaches to transparency. This case once again proved how vital watchdogs for civil society, such as AfriForum and Solidarity, are in the ongoing battle to protect human rights in South Africa,” Ernst van Zyl, campaign officer for strategy and content at AfriForum said.

AfriForum chief executive Kallie Kriel said the government had a reputation for corruption and incompetence.

Kriel further criticised the government for using the Covid-19 pandemic as a blueprint for the National Health Insurance.

“This is not the time to experiment,” Kriel said.

With the current pace of the government vaccine role-out, herd immunity won’t be achieved either.

This article’s headline has been update to reflect that AfriForum is not planning on purchasing vaccines, but only assisting interested stakeholders to do so.

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.