DA leader John Steenhuisen threatens legal action over vaccine rollout transparency
Opposition party gives President Cyril Ramaphosa seven days to come clean on strategy or face court action
The opposition DA is threatening to take President Cyril Ramaphosa and his government to court if they fail to provide details of their Covid-19 vaccine rollout plan.
During a media address, party leader John Steenhuisen said the DA will send a letter to Ramaphosa giving him a week to divulge details regarding vaccine procurement, pricing, budget and distribution plans in SA.
His address comes while the government is under immense pressure from the public and civil society over its perceived failure to secure a Covid-19 vaccine earlier.
A number of European and other countries have started vaccinating their citizens.
“We will need absolute clarity from the government on how they intend to manage the vaccination programme. No more double-speak and no more spin. We will need to know, in full detail, where our shipments of vaccines are coming from, how many doses will be in each shipment and when will they arrive,” said Steenhuisen.
“All of this will have to add up to the numbers government has been passing around. We will need to know exactly what happens when these vaccines get here. How are they going to be stored? How will they be distributed? Who will receive them first, and how will government communicate all of this?” said Steenhuisen.
He criticised the government for failure to communicate these details.
“If the president does not provide a full plan that covers all the quantities and timelines, we are going to have no choice but to ask the courts to compel him to do so.”
Steenhuisen said the letter the DA will send to Ramaphosa on Monday will set out how the government’s strategy does not meet the constitutional requirements for a comprehensive vaccine rollout strategy.
“The failure to provide one or more Covid-19 vaccines timeously when these vaccines are available is a violation of people’s rights in terms of section 27(1) of the constitution to have access to health care services.
“It is also a violation of government’s obligation in terms of section 27(2) to take reasonable measures to achieve the progressive realisation of the right to access health care, as well a violation of the right to life as enshrined in section 11 of the Bill of Rights.”
Steenhuisen also criticised the government’s failure to procure vaccines earlier, saying it will use this to justify further extension of the state of disaster which infringes on the rights of citizens.
He said the regulations under the state of disaster infringed on human dignity, freedom of the person, privacy, free practice of religion and culture, among others.
Steenhuisen said there was no rationality in the ANC government’s failure to procure vaccines in time, despite knowing how important it was.
He said the DA also wanted details of the government’s negotiations with suppliers of vaccines, including dates and minutes of the meetings.
“We also need to see a breakdown of government’s budget for both the acquisition and rollout of the vaccines, covering private funds, public funds, donor funds and loans. It is unconscionable that government is considering raising taxes to fund the vaccine acquisition,” said Steenhuisen.
He pledged to work with the government should Ramaphosa provide all the answers requested by his party.
Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.