Parliament must hold Minister Mkhize accountable for the vaccine rollout process during tomorrow’s meeting

Note to Editors: Please click here for a soundbite by the Shadow Minister of Health, Siviwe Gwarube MP.

The Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, will be presenting government’s plans on the Covid-19 vaccine to the Portfolio Committee of Health tomorrow, and the Democratic Alliance will be using this opportunity to hold the minister to account on various issues, which have come to light with the vaccine procurement processes.

We will seek clarity on:

1. The current processes and status of the bilateral engagements with vaccine manufacturers.​ A number of vaccine options are unviable, deemed unaffordable or unavailable for South Africa. What the status of these bilateral engagements is in light of these issues.

2. Government cannot rely solely on the Solidarity Fund to finance this vaccine endeavor. It needs to have a sustainable and viable funding stream which government must present. There is plenty of wasted funds going to failing SOEs which can be directed to this life- saving process.

3. Of the 5 vaccine options that has been provided by government, many are being discounted in South Africa based on various reasons including storage capability and/or cost. Therefore, the DA will request a detailed logistics plan on storage, transportation and distribution of the vaccine. And how this will be allocated to the first 1 million front line workers identified.

4. Clarity on their current position of negotiations with the private sector including medical aid schemes. There is confusion about the role of medical schemes in this process.

5. Details on the single procurement process which government has proposed. There seemingly is no wisdom in limiting the funding and sourcing of a vaccine only to government when the process has been sluggish against the huge target of 40 million South Africans.

In addition to this, we have seen the looting of public money meant for the COVID response last year by the politically connected. We cannot allow the same to happen to the funds allocated for this vaccine.

Parliament cannot evade its responsibility during this pandemic. This lack of understanding of its oversight role needs to come to an end and MPs must hold government to account.

We must get this right if we are to save lives and livelihoods.