DA threatens Ramaphosa with legal action over vaccines roll-out
Johannesburg - DA leader John Steenhuisen has threatened President Cyril Ramaphosa with legal action if he does not divulge details of the origin of vaccines destined to be used to protect South Africans against the deadly coronavirus.
Steenhuisen told the media yesterday his party’s lawyers had written to Ramaphosa, asking him to share with them efforts made by his government to secure the vaccines and the amount spent in securing them.
“Our lawyers have already written to the president setting out the extent to which the government's strategy does not meet the constitutional requirements for a comprehensive vaccine roll-out programme, in that it violates several constitutional provisions.
“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 as a violation of the right to life, as enshrined in Section 11 of the Bill of Rights,” Steenhuisen said.
He said the failure would no doubt be used by the government to justify the extension of the State of Disaster and its regulations, which infringe on almost every right in the Bill of Rights, including the rights to human dignity, freedom of the person, privacy, free practice of religion and culture, freedom of movement, free practice of one’s occupation, property and education.
He said Section 1(c) of the Constitution enshrines the Rule of Law as a fundamental prescript, which requires decision-making be rational, saying there was no rationality in the government’s failure to secure sufficient vaccines despite knowing early on how important they’d be and having had access to them.
“In our letter we asked the president to reply within seven days explaining why, in his view, the government has not infringed on these constitutional provisions.
“We have also asked him, for the sake of transparency, to set out the details of the government’s negotiations with vaccine suppliers. This reply must include the dates and the minutes of all the meetings with suppliers.
“We also need to see a breakdown of the government’s budget for both the acquisition and the roll-out of the vaccines, covering public funds, private funds, donor funds and loans,” Steenhuisen said.
He said the president’s reply would have to provide the full roll-out and administration programme, which has to include all the vaccine types, number of required doses, the dates that these will be available as well as how these will be stored and transported.