Thapelo Lekabe
Digital Journalist
2 minute read
26 Jan 2021
11:35 am

Solidarity to petition WHO over alleged plans to prioritise black business in vaccine roll-out

Thapelo Lekabe

Anton van der Bijl, the head of legal service at Solidarity, on Tuesday told 'The Citizen' that the union was against race being part of the country’s Covid-19 vaccination programme.

Picture for illustration. Picture: iStock

Trade union Solidarity says it will send an urgent letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Coronavirus Command Council about government’s plans to promote black empowerment in the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines.

This after President Cyril Ramaphosa reportedly told the ANC’s top six officials and the Progressive Business Forum last week, that the rollout of vaccines in the country would provide an opportunity for black empowerment.

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Anton van der Bijl, the head of legal service at Solidarity, on Tuesday told The Citizen that the union was against race being part of the country’s Covid-19 vaccination programme. He said the involvement of black businesses should be because they were going to help in an efficient way, and not because they were black.

“There’s no time for politics at this point in time. The first and the most [important] thing must be ensuring that everyone, to the extent that the state can, has a vaccine. To look at some point of agenda at this time would not be prudent and not in the best interest of South Africa and its citizens,” Van der Bijl said.

“The private sector has a huge role to play in the rollout of vaccines. Each and every citizen of SA has a constitutional right to get health assistance and to access vaccines from the private sector.”

Solidarity said the WHO had a duty to advise the South African government on how to use the most efficient methods during a pandemic such as the one South Africa is currently facing.

Van der Bijl said they were hoping that the world health body would side with them on their arguments.

“The WHO can just ensure that race doesn’t have a role to play in the rollout of vaccines in South Africa. We will be quite happy with that if they can send a letter to the South African government. SA is a member of the WHO and in its constitution, it’s clearly stated that race cannot have a role to play when it comes to health and safety,” he said.

Solidarity and lobby group AfriForum are also going ahead with their legal action against Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma over governments Covid-19 vaccine plan.

The organisations have accused Dlamini-Zuma of failing to respond to a letter of demand that was issued to her earlier this month on the country’s vaccine programme. They have argued that government has not been transparent about the details of the plan.

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