Marizka Coetzer
2 minute read
19 May 2021
10:30 pm

AfriForum challenges BEE policy on Covid-19 vaccines

Marizka Coetzer

AfriForum submitted a request to tender for Covid-19 vaccines in February and April, but it was rejected.

AfriForum's headquarters in Centurion. Picture: Jacques Nelle

While Covid-19 infections continue to climb, civil rights organisation AfriForum has filed an urgent application against Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni in the High Court in Pretoria to halt the black economic empowerment (BEE) vaccine policy.

On Wednesday, AfriForum told Judge Mandla Mbongwe the vaccine rollout was nowhere near where it should be and asked for the exemption of all state organs that purchase and sell goods and services related to the vaccine programme from all BEE requirements.

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Advocate Mark Oppenheimer, who represented AfriForum, said South Africa was not only behind its global peers but also African peers in the vaccination rollout.

He said the government was very ambitious when it announced it would vaccinate 360,000 people a day over 12 months to reach its target of four million for community immunity.

“Government has not reached the daily 316,000 vaccinations,” Oppenheimer said.

He said out of 36 working days, government only managed to vaccinate 288,406 people, which was supposed to be the daily target

The 8000-odd daily vaccinations have, since April, decreased to an average of 7746 a day.

“It has slowed down even further and it would take 40 years to vaccinate 40 million people at this rate,” said Oppenheimer.

He said SA was behind on the African continent compared with Congo, Angola, Malawi and Zimbabwe.

He said the AfriForum application aimed to ensure an open tender process.

AfriForum submitted a request to tender for vaccines in February and April, but it was rejected.

Political analyst Daniel Silke said the application wAS a political ploy by AfriForum, which might not find a sympathetic ear in the courts.

“Given the critical urgency of the vaccine programme and the propensity for corruption, leading to a diminished or problematic rollout, AfriForum is using the ‘emergency’ nature of the vaccine programme to score a political point about the potential dangers of BEE being applied within this context,” Silke said.

Judgment was reserved.