The Government has failed its duty to protect the rights of South Africans, at least according to Democratic Alliance Leader John Steenhuisen.
“Today is meant to be a celebration of our hard-won human rights, but the reality is that many of these human rights were eroded more in the past year than in any other time in the history of our democracy,” Steenhuisen said in the party’s statement on human rights day.
“If we’re honest with ourselves, South Africa has very little to celebrate on this Human Rights Day.”
Steenhuisen lamented the government’s slow pace towards the procurement of the Covid-149 vaccine as a shameful violation of human rights.
The roll-out of million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was halted in February after preliminary research showed it to be less effective against the new variant discovered in the country.
The doses are also set to expire at the end of April and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said that the government was at an advanced stage of negotiations to sell the doses to the African Union.
In his message, Steenhuisen lambasted the government’s effort of using the “leftovers” of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine that is yet to be approved by the South African Health Product Regulator as it is still part of extended human trials globally.
“The failure is not as President Ramaphosa tries to tell us. The result of vaccine nationalism is we have to scrape and beg for leftovers. Our vaccination programme will only begin when other countries are already concluding theirs.”
“Equally unforgivable is the government’s refusal to administer the one million AstraZeneca vaccines it bought at five times the inflated price back in January and which has since being [stored] in a Johannesburg warehouse. With winter and the prospect of a third wave looming, the government’s willingness to let R75 million worth of precious vaccines expire is criminal. We cannot celebrate Human Rights [Day] today and not reflect on this terrible violation on the rights of South Africans,” said Steenhuisen.