Trade Union Heads to Court over Covid-19 Vaccine Rollout

Trade union Solidarity and civil society group AfriForum are instituting legal action against the government of South Africa over its proposed process for procurement and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines across the country.

AfriForum said the government must not be a monopoly in deciding who receives the vaccine and who does not. AfriForum and Trade Union Solidarity say they want to ensure a transparent process free from corruption or mismanagement.  They want a procedure that will not hamper those who seek to get the vaccines.

South Africa is set to take its first supply of one million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in few days. It also expects half a milllion doses in February from the Serum Institute of India (SII).

Head of the Solidarity Research Institute Connie Mulder says, “We’re talking about the same government that cannot deliver tests to schools, that cannot supply power for our central provider and now they’re promising they will provide vaccines successfully”

Mulder explains further, that looking at the state’s history of failure, South Africa cannot allow the nationalisation of vaccines during a health crisis.  

Ernst van Zyl, campaign officer for Strategy and Content at AfriForum said

“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,”

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said on Thursday that the South African government will be the sole buyer of the vaccines for the country and that the Department of Health will liaise with suppliers to purchase stock in order to distribute to provincial health departments and the private health sector.

Mkhize explained that in order to effectively deal with the pandemic, “…the only protection is through vaccination…in terms of the department’s calculation, we need 67-70% of the population to be immunised to break the cycle of transmission – what is called the herd immunity.”

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