Late in the week President Cyril Ramaphosa issued a statement that he has placed Mkhize on special leave until investigations against him have been concluded
Johannesburg – It has been a dramatic week in South African politics with Dr Zweli Mkhize saga dragging on as more calls against him increased.
Late in the week President Cyril Ramaphosa issued a statement that he has placed Mkhize on special leave until investigations against him have been concluded. Ramaphosa has appointed Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane as acting health minister.
Mkhize is facing allegations that he benefited from the R150m contract given to Digital Vibes, which is run by his former private assistant Taheara Mathera and former spokesperson Naardhira Mitha.
The allegations have been going on for a few weeks now after it emerged that Mkhize and his family had benefited from the contract.
Opposition parties in Parliament had been calling for Ramaphosa to act with the President saying they were waiting for the Special Investigating Unit to conclude its report.
The SIU has said it will finish the probe into Mkhize by the end of June.
The official opposition laid criminal charges in Cape Town.
DA’s health spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube has alleged that Mkhize personally signed off on the submission that contained the contract, saying that it was in direct contravention of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (POCCA section 3, and specifically section 12 and 13 which relate to acts of service offered or accepted in exchange for government contracts and tenders.
In addition, Gwarube says, the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) explicitly stated that the signing off of any contracts was the function of the accounting officer and not the executive authority – as was allegedly the case with Mkhize.
But since the emergence of these allegations Mkhize maintained that he had not personally benefited from the contract and dismissed allegations against him.
He, however, during his last official duties in Kimberley – prior to being placed on special leave – admitted that he later learnt that Digital Vibes paid for maintenance work at his house.
“This made me quite unhappy and we had to sit down as a family and had a conversation that this kind of relationship was inappropriate and all these funds need to be returned,” Mkhize told the media in Kimberley. ,
Adding more to woes though, Mkhize may face new allegations of being a dishonest member of parliament if the DA goes ahead with its threat to report him to the Parliament’s Ethics Committee.
In November last year, he told DA’s former health spokesperson Lindy Wilson that the Digital Vibes tender was legal and had the approval of the National Treasury.
In January this year, he changed his tune following a series of media exposure which forced him to appoint a forensic team to conduct an investigation into the award of the tender.
The investigation team on May 26 – found the award to be irregular – a flagrant contradiction to Mkhize’s parliamentary reply to MP Wilson. Now, the Parliament Ethics Committee will, if approached, be expected to rule if Mkhize’s conduct is in line with parliamentary rule.