Nov 29, 2021

Cabinet Reshuffle On Cards As Mkhize Expected To Quit Over Covid-19 Scandal

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Mr Ramaphosa insisted he wanted the full truth about the allegations involving Dr Mkhize and the company Digital Vibes.

FILE PHOTO: Health Minister Zweli Mkhize addressing the media at the GCIS Tshedimosetso House in Pretoria. PICTURE: GCIS

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CAPE TOWN: Dr Mkhize, if found wanting in the SIU corruption probe within his department, would be removed, Ms Ntshavheni said.

Top South Africa’s minister is understood to be preparing to resign from office over the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) probe into an irregular award of a R150-million Covid-19 communications tender to his long-term associate.

Dr Zweli Mkhize, who will appear before the Portfolio Committee of Health on Friday morning is expected to respond to allegations of his involvement in the irregular Digital Vibes contract.

As the high-profile line minister in charge of the nation’s 55-million population’s health safety and security and vaccination roll-out service delivery.

Dr Mkhize was once the toast of politics in his hometown of Pietermaritzburg, has been pushed into a tight corner over his close links to Tahera Mather and Naadira Mitha, directors of Digital Vibes, an obscure communications and public relations agency from KwaZulu-Natal.

The pair, based at the African National Congress’ Headquarters often called Luthuli House during Dr Mkhize’s time as ANC treasurer-general.

During a press briefing in Cape Town about whether or not a Cabinet reshuffle is on the cards, SA’s leader, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa deflected questions from scores of journalists.

Mr Ramaphosa insisted he wanted the full truth about the allegations involving Dr Mkhize and the company Digital Vibes. But he said he wanted to act with caution and wait for the investigation to unfold. He told journalists in the freezing weather of coastal Cape Town.

FILE PHOTO: South Africa’s president, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa with Ms Khumbudzo Ntshavheni engages members of the media at the Imbizo Media Centre in Cape Town. PICTURE: Presidency/Twitter

After tiptoeing around the issue involving Dr Mkhize, Mr Ramaphosa finally said the matter was on his desk and he was dealing with it.

“If nothing would be addressed and dealt with, you would be justified in saying this is a risk. So, I am addressing it, I have met the minister, he has given me an explanation, investigations are underway and as more information comes to the fore, it is being addressed. I did say this matter would be addressed to finality – it will be a transparent process, and everybody will get to know what we have done,” Mr Ramaphosa said.

On whether he is planning to reshuffle his Cabinet, Mr Ramaphosa said, “Changes to Cabinet – yes I know you would want to know when is Cabinet being reshuffled, am I satisfied with the performance of ministers, should I change this one or that one – all I can say is that changes to the Cabinet are the prerogative of the president.”

However, Dr Mkhize imminent resignation is expected before the end of the week, a source has told the Republic Mail.

“Look, he has already been pushed too much to the corner, and he will definitely resign, it is just a matter of when,” the source said.

Meanwhile, earlier during the Black Business Council Summit, the Minister of Small Business Development, Ms Khumbudzo Ntshavheni while responding to SA’s biggest opposition party representative, the DA, Mr Geordin Hill-Lewis had called for Dr Mkhize removal during a political debate at the Black Business Council’s 2021 summit, said, if found wanting in the SIU corruption probe within his department, he would be removed.

Ms Ntshavheni was representing the ANC’s deputy secretary-general at the summit and also called for the SIU to be given time to complete its work when it comes to Dr Mkhize.

She used axed Gauteng Health Member of the Executive Council, Dr Bandile Masuku as an example, arguing that despite how good he was on the job, when the SIU found him wanting, the premier took action.

Ms Ntshavheni said no other party was as serious about tackling corruption as the ANC.

“We are saying that anybody will be prosecuted and everybody will be removed where there is evidence and have been charged because we need to clean the system,” she said.

While she hit out at the DA’s own inconsistent approach to its leaders over its qualification scandal, Ms Ntshavheni said South Africa must have an important conversation about the racialisation of corruption.

“The Steinhoff guy has not been told he is corrupt. Instead, he says he has done misrepresentation. But if it was a black person, it would have been called corruption,” Ms Ntshavheni said.

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