AfriForum and trade union Solidarity say they are preparing to haul Cogta Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to court after she allegedly failed to respond to their letter of demand regarding the government's plan for the Covid-19 vaccine rollout.
In a joint statement on Thursday, the organisations said they had given the minister ample time to respond to their letter, issued on 13 January, which questioned how the government planned to handle the rollout.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize had previously announced that the vaccine would be rolled out in three phases, with the first phase, the vaccination of healthcare workers, set to take place in the first quarter of the year. Last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the government had secured 20 million doses of the vaccine for this year, so far, with more talks underway.
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"The government’s non-disclosure of information is further proof why it cannot be trusted with a monopoly regarding the purchasing and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines. A government incapable of demonstrating basic transparency on matters of such a serious nature cannot be given the benefit of the doubt," said Ernst van Zyl, campaign officer for strategy and content at AfriForum.
President Cyril Ramaphosa and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize have sought to allay concerns that inefficiency and delays by government officials may have put the country on the back foot in procuring Covid-19 vaccines. | @QaanitahHunter https://t.co/hUU9YR5025— News24 (@News24) January 16, 2021
Solidarity said the government rollout plan lacked clarity and that it was not clear why Dlamini-Zuma and Mkhize had the "power to prohibit anyone but the state to procure vaccines".
"It is a shame that the ministers did not see fit to provide answers about the rollout of the vaccine. That is why we are now forced to take the case to court. In view of the mistrust in the government and their handling of the vaccine issue, exceptional transparency is now of utmost importance," said Connie Mulder, the head of the Solidarity Research Institute.
Mulder said that in order to speed up the process of procuring the vaccine, government should not be the only institution tasked with securing it.
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"It is absolute wishful thinking to try and tackle the vaccination programme alone. The government is clearly determined to fail, and we cannot stop that from happening. However, what we must do, is to stop them from preventing others from succeeding," said Mulder.
News24 reached out to Dlamini-Zuma's office for comment and will be added once received.
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