Sister Ndzishe, who works at Luvoyo clinic receives her Covid 19 vaccine at Khayelitsha District hospital. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA)
Sister Ndzishe, who works at Luvoyo clinic receives her Covid 19 vaccine at Khayelitsha District hospital. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA)

DA withdrawal of court application over government’s vaccine plan welcomed by Presidency

By Theolin Tembo, Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Feb 21, 2021

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Cape Town - The Presidency has welcomed the DA’s withdrawal of its application against government on the country’s Covid-19 vaccination strategy.

The DA had sought an order from the Western Cape High Court declaring that government’s conduct in preparing and implementing its programme to administer Covid-19 vaccines “is irrational and unconstitutional”.

The DA also sought an order directing the government to develop a comprehensive and co-ordinated plan for procuring, obtaining and administering the vaccines.

At the time of filling papers, DA leader John Steenhuisen had said: “We've filed an urgent court application to obtain a declarator that government’s conduct in procuring vaccines as well as its preparation for the rollout of these vaccines are in violation of several constitutional principles.”

Upon welcoming the news that the DA withdrew its application, the Presidency said that the DA had no good cause to bring its application in the first place.

“The DA withdrew its application after government filed its answering affidavit, in which it outlined the measures it had taken to source, procure, distribute and administer vaccines and provided the details of the plans that had been developed to roll out the vaccination programme.

“It should be noted that government representatives, including the President and the Minister of Health, have provided regular public updates on these measures, and the plans outlined in government’s answering affidavit were already in the public domain,” said Tyrone Seale, spokesperson for the presidency.

“Despite the challenges posed by the reduced efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine against the 501Y.v2 variant of the virus, the vaccination of health workers with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has commenced.

“Government is confident that with the support and assistance of all South Africans, including all political parties, we will meet our targets,” Seale said.

Over 10 000 healthcare workers are being vaccinated in the country using the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine as part of an implementation study.

This forms part of the government’s first phase of the vaccinations.

The next phases will include frontline workers and eventually the bulk of the population.

The government had said the aim was to vaccinate 40 million people by the end of the year.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize had promised that more vaccines have been ordered from Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.

Steenhuisen, in response to the Presidency’s filing, questioned why the Presidency had taken so long to respond to the court filing.

“We have made it clear to the Presidency that we will be monitoring the implementation of the plan at every step of the way, and he will see us back in court if the government’s actions show it is incapable of delivering on its commitments,” Steenhuisen said.

Meanwhile Deputy President David Mabuza, in his capacity as the Chairperson of Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Vaccines, will convene consultations with traditional leaders, inter-faith leaders and NEDLAC on government’s roll-out plan of vaccination programme.

Mabuza will be joined by members of the Inter-Ministerial Committee in virtual consultations on Thursday, 4 February 2021 between 10:00 and 14:00.

According to the terms of reference as set by President Cyril Ramaphosa, the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Vaccines “should ensure effective collaboration with social partners, including the private sector and civil society, to support and enable the vaccine rollout”.

These consultations are aimed at ensuring broader mobilisation of all sectors of society for the national vaccination programme.


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