Dec 2, 2021

Mkhize Refutes Claims That Digital Vibes Probe Is About ANC Presidential Race

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It has also emerged that Dr Mkhize’s son benefited from the proceeds of the irregular tender.

FILE PHOTO: Dr Zweli Mkhize addressing media houses, he is understood to be ready to resign but details are still sketchy. PICTURE: Delwyn Verasamy/M&G

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JOHANNESBURG: It is believed that Mr Ramaphosa is expected to run for the second term and Dr Mkhize is also vying for the same position.

South Africa’s Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize has refuted claims that he held meetings with various African National Congress (ANC) political leaders over the Digital Vibes matter.

He has also denied that he blamed his party leader and president Mr Cyril Ramaphosa for trying to oust potential ANC presidency contenders with the investigation. The ANC will hold its presidential election next year in December.

It is believed that Mr Ramaphosa is expected to run for the second term and Dr Mkhize is also vying for the same position.

In a statement issued by the department, “The minister wishes to clarify that he does not believe that this investigation has anything to do with ANC politics or as referred to in the article, ‘2022’.”

“At no point has the minister blamed the president for this investigation,” he said through a statement.

The statement comes after one Sunday newspaper stated that the health minister held a meeting with ANC regional leaders at his Pietermaritzburg home, where “he is said to have blamed President Cyril Ramaphosa for targeting potential candidates who could challenge him next year”.

This was after the minister’s own investigation pointed to irregularity in the awarding of the R150 million tender to an obscured media and communications company, Digital Vibes, which is linked to some of his close associates.

It has also emerged that Dr Mkhize’s son benefited from the proceeds of the irregular tender.

“As previously stated publicly, it was the minister that advised the [director-general] to conduct an independent investigation after receiving the [Auditor-General] report that recommended that the department must interrogate possible overcharging by Digital Vibes.

“It was also the minister who briefed [the] president about this investigation, thereafter the [Special Investigating Unit] publicly announced that it would use an already existing proclamation looking into matters of COVID-19 contracts malfeasance,” the statement reads.

In the statement, the minister also highlighted that before the SIU took over the investigation, “the Department of Health had initiated its own investigation. It is therefore disingenuous to allege that this is linked to any political contestation.”

The SIU had previously indicated that they have made findings into the irregular contract awarded to Dr Mkhize’s associates but the head of the SIU could not disclose the outcome as the probe is not yet concluded.

Meanwhile, calls for Dr Mkhize to step aside amid the investigation have risen since the news broke, the Sunday newspaper article further added that the meeting Dr Mkhize had with regional ANC leaders was an attempt to garner support for his ANC presidential bid.

“The minister remains committed to cooperating with the investigation process as it proceeds, and will ensure that the department continues to do its work in rolling out the vaccination programme and puts the necessary measures in place to mitigate the risk of the third wave,” Dr Mkhize said in the statement.

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