News | South Africa | Politics
While the Democratic Alliance (DA) is preparing to take the government to court over its alleged failure to timeously secure the Covid-19 vaccine and for its inadequate roll-out strategy, a political analyst believes it would be difficult for the opposition party to prove negligence.
DA leader John Steenhuisen on Monday revealed his party’s intention to sue the government unless Pretoria came up with a clear plan on how it was going to remedy this shortfall.
He said the government had failed to acquire sufficient vaccines or devised a proper roll-out plan to fight the pandemic.
The party’s lawyers had written to President Cyril Ramaphosa, highlighting these failures.
The government was believed to have breached section 27 of the constitution and section 11 of the Bill of Rights. The state of disaster had infringed on every right contained in the Bill of Rights.
Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said it would be difficult to convince a judge of the failure on the part of government if there was no policy.
“Remember, you have to prove there was administrative negligence, that a policy was decided upon but it was implemented in a way that constituted administrative negligence.
“The government could easily say this was not part of their policy and therefore we could not be blamed for it,” he said.
Steenhuisen said the problems were self-inflicted by the ANC.
“We will have to take decisions that might be scary and we will have to do things that are hard, and not only focus on that which can be accomplished by the stroke of a pen and the gazetting of a regulation.”
Instead of focused solutions the government had been tinkering with hundreds of bureaucratic interventions that
made ministers look busy and in control.
The healthcare capacity was the government’s first failure, followed its poor testing and tracing programme and dereliction of duty to acquire sufficient vaccines.
“To achieve herd immunity we need to vaccinate around two-thirds of our population,” said Steenhuisen.
“This means 40 million people and government has boldly committed to doing so by the end of this year.
“Even if we already had every single vaccine we needed, government would have zero chance of rolling out such a massive programme in this time frame.”
He said money had never been the issue because the full cost of vaccinating two-thirds of the population would range from R8 billion to R16 billion, depending on the vaccine type.
The country’s economy had lost R13 billion daily during the Level 5 lockdown – roughly the full cost of a vaccination programme.
The alcohol ban has cost government about R2.5 billion weekly, while the six-week cigarette ban during the early stages of the lockdown had cost around R3 billion in missed taxes.
“These could have paid for a full vaccination programme several times over … money for vaccines is not the issue at all,” he said.
“And even if it were, the private sector would make up the shortfall in a heartbeat if it meant opening the economy up again.
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