There are calls for President Cyril Ramaphosa to fire Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, who is currently on ‘Special Leave’. The calls follow revelations from the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) that Mkhize repeatedly pressured the Health Director General, Malebona Matsoso, to approve the irregular R150-million Digital Vibes contract.
In an affidavit to the Special Tribunal – in which the SIU states its case against the allegedly corrupt relationship between Digital Vibes, Mkhize and the health department – the SIU says that Mkhize allegedly “directly and indirectly” benefited from the irregular contract, which bypassed proper procurement processes.
The SIU claims that “at best, this conduct on the part of the Minister was improper and, at worst, the conduct of the Minister was unlawful”.
In its court document, the SIU requests that the R150-million tender be set aside and money paid back, including for Mkhize’s family to repay just under R4-million. According to the SIU Mkhize received R6,720 from Digital Vibes (allegedly for maintenance at a property in Bryanston) and his son Dedani received R3.8-million. Both Mkhize and his son apparently did not do any work for Digital Vibes in order to have been legitimately paid.
702 presenter Bongani Bingwa tweeted Friday morning: “Pay back the money! The SIU wants Zweli Mkhize to return nearly R4m he received directly and indirectly as gratification from the Digital Vibes contract. The minister allegedly put pressure on officials to approve – but does the President dare to fire him?”
According to the DA Shadow Minister of Health, Siviwe Gwarube, Ramaphosa must fire Mkhize.
“President Cyril Ramaphosa can no longer dither on the future of Dr Zweli Mkhize as Health Minister. The founding affidavit by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to the Special Tribunal has enough evidence for him to be fired.
“The President no longer has an excuse to table the SIU report handed over to him three weeks ago. Clearly the SIU has revealed wrongdoing on the part of Minister Mkhize.”
Gwarube says the SIU’s affidavit is the “final nail in the coffin for Mkhize. Now that the public knows what’s in the report the President must fire him.”
DA Shadow Minister of State Security, Dianne Kohler Barnard, called the SIU’s findings against Mkhize “explosive”.
Gwarube said in a statement on Friday that the DA calls on President Ramaphosa to “show his mettle by cleaning up his Cabinet and appointing a permanent Minister of Health who is capable and beyond reproach.”
The DA also welcomed the move by the SIU to recoup the millions in public funds wasted on the Digital Vibes contract. Gwarube said:
“This is another step closer to accountability for those involved in this scandal. The DA on 3 June also took the necessary steps to lay a criminal charge against both Minister Mkhize and the Director General of the Health Department.
“Not only should Mkhize be fired, he must also be criminally investigated and face the full might of the law should he be found guilty.”
Digital Vibes is run by Mkhize’s former personal assistant, Naadhira Mitha and Tahera Mather, who worked with him when he was Treasurer-General at the ANC’s Luthuli House.
Mkhize said in May that he was aware that people suspected he may have used his influence to award the contract to his associates, but argued that he doesn’t regard them as personal friends.
Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has been serving as Acting Minister of Health.