AfriForum and Solidarity have announced that they are preparing a case to challenge government’s proposed monopoly on the buying and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said on Thursday that the first batch of one million AstraZeneca vaccine vials would arrive in the country in January, with the second batch of 500,000 coming in February.
Mkhize explained that vaccines for healthcare workers would be outsourced and distributed through a central distributor, to both the private and public health sectors.
This includes hospitals, vaccination centres, pharmacies, mobile clinics, occupational health sites, outreach teams and other public and private sector sites.
But the two organisations want to ensure that those who seek to get the vaccine are not obstructed from doing so by government mismanagement or corruption.
“Throughout the lockdown period the government has proven that when it has a monopoly on Covid-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.
The Institute for Race Relations (IRR) also wants Mkhize to explain why private sector entities will be barred from participation in the rollout of vaccines despite their willingness to do so.
“The decision by government to disallow private sector participation with regards to vaccines risks unnecessary delays in vaccines reaching South Africans desperate to return to economic productivity and further runs the risk of having the poorest taxpayers pay for the vaccinations of wealthier South Africans who have the means to obtain via the private sector the necessary medical options and treatment.
“Secondly, it is an unnecessary risk to lives and livelihoods to exclude the participation of private sector entities in the rollout of vaccines, thereby delaying the process of medically protecting South Africans from Covid-19.
The government’s newly stated target of having the majority of South Africans receive vaccinations by the end of the year is not adequate to the urgency of allowing the return of normality for many millions who’ve endured immense hardship as result of South Africa’s Covid-19 situation,” said Hermann Pretorius, head of strategic initiatives at the IRR.
The IRR said should progress in the rollout of vaccines stall, it would consider legal action to ensure that the health of South Africans was not compromised by government.