Covid-19 Vaccination Application Not Urgent – High Court

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By Mary Taruvinga

AN application by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) seeking to compel government to provide a Covid-19 national vaccination plan has been struck off the urgent roll by the High Court.

High Court judge, Justice Felistus Chatukuta ruled Monday the matter is not urgent.

“Justice Chatukuta stated that the ZimRights application was not an urgent matter as government had first declared a national lockdown in March 2020 while the national budget was presented to Parliament in November 2020,” said Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) in a statement.

Justice Chatukuta ruled ZimRights ought to have been aware and took action over the past two months after noticing the national budget had not made provision for the purchase of vaccines while other countries had started receiving batches of vaccines in December 2020 and early last month.

Through its lawyer Tendai Biti from the ZLHR, ZimRights on 3 February 2021 filed an urgent chamber application at the Harare High Court seeking an order to compel President Emmerson

Mnangagwa, Health Minister Constantino Chiwenga and Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube to promulgate regulations relating to the public policies and measures to deal with registration, acquisition and distribution of coronavirus vaccines.

Through the urgent chamber application, ZimRights, represented by Dzikamai Bere, its director, argued Mnangagwa, Chiwenga and Ncube had failed to put in place measures to ensure the roll out and availability of coronavirus vaccines to Zimbabweans.

Bere said the government’s failure to acquire the vaccines had resulted in unnecessary loss of lives while Mnangagwa had failed to protect the citizens through acquiring, testing and providing a rollout plan.

Ncube, ZimRights said, had committed a serious breach of people’s Constitutional rights by failing to provide financial resources in the 2021 national budget for the acquisition of the vaccines.

Through its application, ZimRights wanted Mnangagwa, Chiwenga and Ncube to be compelled to publish and lay before Parliament a detailed coronavirus rollout plan providing full details on acquisition of vaccines, storage and distribution of drugs, priority recipients of the vaccine and a detailed budget for procurement of the vaccines.