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High Court dismisses ZimRights Covid-19 vaccination challenge

The High Court has struck down an urgent chamber application filed by Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) seeking to compel the government to provide a National Deployment Vaccination Plan saying it is not an urgent matter.

ZimRights filed an urgent chamber application at the Harare High Court on February 3, 2021 wanting the government to provide more information about vaccines and also present the accompanying budget for the purchase and roll out of these Covid-19 vaccines.

The human rights based organisation wanted the Harare High Court to order President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Health and Child Care Minister, Constantino Chiwenga, also the Vice President and Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube to make public regulations relating to the public policies and measures to deal with registration, acquisition and distribution of coronavirus vaccines.

Read: https://cite.org.zw/zimrights-seeks-high-court-intervention-for-covid-19-vaccination-plan/

According to information from ZLHR, High Court Judge Justice Felistus Chatukuta on February 5, 2021 told the ZLHR lawyer, Tendai Biti that the ZimRights application had been removed from the roll of urgent matters as it was deemed not urgent.

“Justice Chatukuta stated that the ZimRights application was not an urgent matter as the government had first declared a national lockdown in March 2020 while the National Budget was presented to Parliament in November 2020,” said ZLHR.

Justice Chatukuta ruled that ZimRights should have been “aware and took action over the past one or two months when the National Budget had not made provision for the purchase of vaccines and other countries had started receiving batches of vaccines in December and early in January.”

Through the urgent chamber application, ZimRights, represented by National Director, Dzikamai Bere had argued that President Mnangagwa, Chiwenga and Ncube had failed to put in place measures to guarantee the roll out and availability of coronavirus vaccines to Zimbabweans.

Bere argued that the government’s failure to acquire vaccines had resulted in “unnecessary loss of lives while President Mnangagwa had failed to protect people through acquiring, testing and providing a rollout plan for coronavirus vaccines.”

In their urgent chamber application, ZimRights said the finance minister 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 coronavirus vaccines.”

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

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