The Democratic Alliance (DA) is threatening legal action if President Cyril Ramaphosa and his team fail to come up with a detailed, valuable and practical plan for obtaining a vaccine by the end of business on Monday.
“Despite numerous calls by the DA, civil society and the public for government to showcase vaccine rolling out plan to save lives. Nothing has been done. Approaching the courts for relief is the last resort,” DA Shadow Minister of Health, Siviwe Gwarube explained.
According to Gwarube DA lawyers wrote to the presidency seven days ago saying President Ramaphosa, like all of his executives, has a constitutional obligation to be transparent about vaccine purchases and distribution plans.
“We committed to approaching the courts for relief should this not be done within seven days. Time is now officially up. Should the President and his team not publicly table a detailed, costed and practical vaccine acquisition plan today, we will proceed with court action,”
To date, said Gwarube South Africa is still unclear about the exact timing of the vaccination process, including acquisition, logistics and distribution.
“We are taking our role as the official opposition in this crisis seriously and therefore cannot leave this unchallenged,” added Gwarube.
Addressing the country last December, implementing strict lockdown regulations by withdrawing the country from level 1 back to level 3 to curb the increasing COVID-19 infection, President Ramaphosa said South Africa is negotiating with various manufacturers to distribute the vaccine.
President Ramaphosa said South Africa was in the process of procuring vaccine through three channels, the World Health Organization’s Covax facility, the AU vaccine initiative and direct contact with vaccine producers.
“While there are already some promising negotiations with a number of different manufacturers that have not been finalized, we have 20 million doses to use now, most of which will be dispatched in the first half of this year. We will make further announcements once we finish negotiations with the vaccine manufacturers, “said Ramaphosa.
President Ramaphosa stated the launch would be in three phases, saying phase 1, with the first batch of vaccine, will prioritize about 1.2 million frontline health care workers.
He said phase 2 would accommodate about 16 million people, including facilities such as nursing homes, emergency shelters and prisons, people over 60 and adults with comorbidities, adding that phase 3 with increase manufacturer supplies, South Africa will vaccinate the remaining adult population of around 22.5 million people.
Recently, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told Parliament that South Africa should receive one million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, produced by the Serum Institute of India, before the end of January and nother 500,000 doses are due to follow in February.