Zweli Mkhize's Covid-19 vaccine presentation was 'too vague': DA
The DA is not convinced by health minister Zweli Mkhize's presentation on plans to procure and roll out the Covid-19 vaccine in SA.
The official opposition plans to take a two-pronged approach to demand a detailed plan from Mkhize.
First, the DA, through its chief whip Natasha Mazzone, wrote to parliamentary speaker Thandi Modise demanding an “urgent” debate by the house on the country's vaccination plan, as well as the formation of an ad hoc committee to police the vaccine rollout plan.
Second, the party's shadow minister of health Siviwe Gwarube has launched a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application to force Mkhize to place all his cards on the table about SA's Covid-19 vaccine plans.
Gwarube said Mkhize's presentation was simply “too vague” and the DA believed South Africans deserved to know more than what the minister revealed.
The country's detailed vaccine plan, said Gwarube, was of public importance and should be made public. She was hopeful the detailed plan the DA is demanding from Mkhize would contain:
- a record of decision, proof of bilateral engagements and the exact status of each of these discussions;
- a cost breakdown from the vaccine manufacturers that are being considered;
- details of the procurement mechanism used;
- a rollout plan which comprises all arranged points of distribution for both the public and private sector;
- agreements that detail the rules of engagement between the public and private sector to ensure that as many South Africans as possible have access to the vaccine urgently;
the system to be followed to identify health-care and front-line workers eligible for the vaccine; and
the sources of budget for the procurement and the distribution of the vaccine, details of the logistics for its storage, transportation and distribution.
The party believes that most of the work Mkhize is doing now on the Covid-19 vaccine ought to have been done a long time ago.
"South Africans deserve to know what the details of government’s vaccine plan is – and they deserve to know immediately, because we can’t afford more waves of infection or rolling lockdowns,” said Gwarube.
“We will not simply stand by and allow the South African government’s flat-footed response to this vaccine process to cost us any more lives that could be saved.”
Mazzone said the DA would continue to insist that Modise urgently convene a debate on the Covid-19 vaccine and ensure that an ad hoc committee be set up to be a watchdog over the vaccine rollout.
Should the speaker reject the party's requests, this will mean that parliament has in fact become “constitutionally delinquent”.
“Government has already dropped the ball a number of times during the country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic - from Covid-19 funds lining corrupt politicians' pockets while the most vulnerable in society struggled to get their grants paid, health systems in various provinces buckling under the pressure to deal with Covid-19 patients, irrational regulations preying on civil liberties and hampering aid efforts, to government missing the initial deadline for payment to the Covax initiative twice,” said Mazzone.
“Millions of South Africans depend on this vaccination strategy to ensure that the coronavirus pandemic’s constant attacks on their lives and livelihoods are halted.”