State to comply with South African High Court Judgment to make public COVID-19 vaccine contracts and is not appealing
Health Justice Initiative v The Minister of Health and Information Officer, National Department of Health (Case No 10009/22).
Cape Town 01 September 2023; On Thursday 17 August 2023, the Pretoria High Court ruled in HJI’s favour in our bid to compel the South African National Department of Health to provide access to all COVID-19 vaccine procurement contracts and other documents.
The Court ordered (per Millar J) that all COVID-19 vaccine contracts (‘part 1’) and negotiation related documents (‘part 2’) must be made public within 10 court days of the Judgment.
Today we can confirm that the Department handed documents for part 1 to our legal team. Further to this, it has undertaken to share the remainder (part 2) of the documents it was ordered to disclose, and in agreement with us, by no later than 29 September 2023.
This means that the Department is not appealing the Judgment. The Minister of Health’s decision in that regard is welcomed by the HJI.
“We are encouraged that the Minister and the Department of Health will not be appealing this ground-breaking judgment, and that it has undertaken to release all meeting minutes, agreements and contracts relating to its procurement of COVID-19 vaccines. This is an important day for our democracy and for opening up the process of health procurement. It sends a strong signal to powerful pharmaceutical companies and others that in South Africa, transparency cannot be bartered and is not up for sale – there really is no room for this much of secrecy in the health or any other sector” says Fatima Hassan, Director of HJI.
The HJI and its legal team are reviewing what has been handed over by the Department to assess if it is complete and compliant with the Court order. The HJI and a multi stakeholder civil society group will over the coming days also analyse the contracts that have been handed over. The joint analysis of part 1, along with all the documents (contracts) handed over to HJI will be shared at a joint press briefing via Zoom on Tuesday 5 September 2023, 14h00 SAST.
The part 1 analysis and documents (contracts) will be placed on HJI’s website at the conclusion of the press briefing here: https://healthjusticeinitiative.org.za/pandemic-transparency/
The release of part 2 will follow the same process, becoming available in early October 2023.
Over the next few days and prior to the press briefing HJI will not be available for media interviews.