State 'admits' private sector can procure Covid-19 vaccines

Picture Timothy Bernard/African News Agency(ANA)

Picture Timothy Bernard/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Mar 2, 2021


DURBAN - PRIVATE companies will be able to purchase Covid-19 vaccines. According to AfriForum and Solidarity, government has admitted under oath in its court documents that private companies can in fact purchase vaccines.

"There is no legal restriction on the private sector to purchase Covid-19 vaccines. This follows after the two organisations threatened legal action against the government, to declare unconstitutional any legal exclusion of the private sector regarding the purchase of vaccines," the groups said in a joint statement today.

The groups approached the court in a bid to take action against government to declare the exclusion of the private sector buying vaccines as unconstitutional.

Dr Dirk Hermann, Chief Operations Officer of Solidarity, said the State had a history of failure and therefore did not have the ability to manage the vaccine process on its own.

"The private sector must be involved with the full vaccine value chain – from procurement to the administering of the vaccine.

The groups said that government had used its political power to sow uncertainty regarding the purchase and sale of vaccines with its pronouncements and publications in which it pertinently states that it intends to control the entire vaccine process, from procurement to the administering of it.

According to Hermann, this comes after remarks made by Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, who said that the purchase of vaccines would be managed by the central government.

"Later in KwaZulu-Natal, he mentioned that the national government will be responsible for the direct purchase of vaccines. In parliament, he mentioned that central purchasing of vaccines would be the best option for all people in South Africa. He further mentioned that the private sector can buy vaccines from the government. In the government’s vaccine rollout strategy, they also said that the process will be led nationally," he said.

Hermann said in government's response strategy, it said it would be the sole purchaser for the vaccines in the country.

"The government has now admitted under oath in its court documents that there is no statutory restriction on the private sector regarding the purchase of vaccines. There is now legal certainty that the private sector may purchase and distribute vaccines – a huge setback for looters," he said.

Ernst van Zyl, campaign officer for Strategy and Content at AfriForum, said the timeline of events relating to this case has made it clear that the government's refusal to answer their attorney’s letter has led to large scale confusion and a shocking lack of transparency in an urgent matter.

He explained that they decided to launch a court application to get a response.

"We are delighted that continued pressure from Solidarity and AfriForum has resulted in employers, medical funds and other private institutions now being able to approach manufacturers with confidence for negotiations on the vaccines. This can be crucial in our fight against the virus. Solidarity is now calling on large employers, medical distributors, medical aid funds and other role players to start buying, distributing and administering vaccines on a large scale," Hermann said.

He appealed to suppliers to supply vaccines to a variety of buyers so that there were more role players in the market, thereby giving consumers the choice on which vaccine they want administered.