Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Tuesday told parliament that signing non-disclosure agreements (NDA) with most of the leading vaccine manufacturers when buying vaccines was advantageous for South Africa.
Mkhize said that this allows the country to gain critical insight into the manufacture’s “supply lines, their manufacturing plans, and possible blockages in the manufacturing pipeline.”
“It also allows us to pursue negotiations over prices, volumes, and timelines for delivery,” said Mkhize.
He said this while addressing debate in the National Assembly on the country’s vaccination programme.
“It is within these NDA’s that certain other conditions come to light – amongst these have been the principles of indemnity to be provided by the government to its citizens for any adverse effects arising from vaccinations.”
He said that some companies have required that they “create a no-fault compensation fund as an expression of such indemnity.”
“Having consulted a number of other countries it has become clear that these conditions are standard across the globe. Our the signing of the final agreements has required that we thoroughly consult with treasury to provide guidance so that the PFMA and all relevant legislation is upheld before final agreements are signed.”
Mkhize said that this process has proven to be quite onerous because the country finds itself in a situation for which there is no precedent.
He said when all the contracts have been signed they will be made available for Treasury and the Auditor General’s office for their perusal.
Mkhize addressed the issue of non-disclosure agreements to correct the “erroneous impression that there are questions that we are avoiding because of the NDA’s.”
“Rather, it should be understood that NDA’s must be respected in order to protect the process of timely acquisition of vaccines.”