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DA goes to court over government’s ‘tardy’ vaccine rollout strategy

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has filed court papers in the Western Cape high court demanding that the government clearly explain how it will handle the rollout of the  Covid-19 vaccination to millions.

The first batch of the vaccine arrived in South Africa on Monday, and its rollout is expected to kick off in the next two weeks.

However, in the court papers, seen by the Mail & Guardian, the DA demands clarity on the number of vaccines the government must still secure, “the steps that the national government has taken to secure those doses and also the date which the government reasonably anticipates the doses will be delivered to South Africa, and the anticipated price per dose”.

Furthermore, the DA is demanding that the government states where the money to fund the millions of doses will be sourced, as well as the storage and transportation requirements of the vaccine. 

The respondents include ministers Zweli Mkhize, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Tito Mboweni, Deputy President David Mabuza and the premiers of the nine provinces. They have been given until 8 February to submit answering affidavits if they intend to oppose the application. 

DA Vaccine Plan Court Papers by Mail and Guardian on Scribd

In his affidavit attached to the papers, DA leader John Steenhuisen says that though the provincial health authorities and clinics will be carrying out the bulk of the vaccination programme, these institutions have not received the necessary details regarding which vaccines will be made available and when they should be administered.

“The vaccines will require supporting medical equipment, including storage and refrigeration facilities. However, that equipment has not been procured, delivered or installed at the appropriate locations,” Steenhuisen says.

“The statements of policy that have been published by the national government are vague and largely absent of objective criteria, fixed goals and definite timelines. They rely on steps that still need to be taken, contracts that still need to be concluded and infrastructure that still needs to be put in place,” he alleges.

According to Steenhuisen, the government has been tardy in acquiring and administering the vaccine to South Africans.

“Given the fact that vaccines have been available to governments and have been administered to populations across the world since December 2020, that omission in itself on the part of the national government in itself breaches section 27 of the Constitution as well as section 237,” says Steenhuisen.

“When the president addressed the nation on 11 January 2021, he announced that the second wave of infections had hit the country and, since the commencement of the new year, more than 400 South Africans were dying on a daily basis. That is a stark indication of the consequences of the failure to begin rolling out the vaccines as soon as they became available in early December 2020,” Steenhuisen says.

Watch the president’s address again:

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Chris Gilili
Chris Gilili is a climate and environmental journalist at the Mail & Guardian’s environmental unit, covering socioeconomic issues and general news. Previously, he was a fellow at amaBhungane, the centre for investigative journalism.

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