The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Friday called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to “show his mettle” and appoint a permanent minister of health who is capable and beyond reproach, to replace suspended Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize.
This after the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) filed a founding affidavit to the Special Tribunal on Thursday.
The SIU is seeking to review and set aside the multimillion-rand irregular tender that was awarded by the national Department of Health to Digital Vibes – a company owned by Mkhize’s associates.
It has been almost a month since Ramaphosa received the SIU’s final report on the matter, but he insists that he was still studying it and appealed for space.
SIU confirms legal action
SIU head, advocate Andy Mothibi, revealed during a webinar on Friday that the unit had filed the affidavit on Thursday. He said they wanted to recover the R150 million paid to Digital Vibes between the period of 29 January 2020 to February 2021.
“We have reached the outcomes that we have reached and I can just really say we have found irregularities in the manner in which that contract was procured, and that’s why we’re in court,” Mothibi said.
Digital Vibes was initially contracted to handle the department’s National Health Insurance (NHI) communication work, but its scope was later expanded to include work on the department’s Covid-19 campaigns.
Mothibi declined to comment on media reports that the SIU found that Mkhize pressured senior officials in his department to appoint the company.
But according to a TimesLIVE report, Mkhize and his son, Dedani, have been referred to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) by the SIU to consider charging them for corruption over “suspicious payments” they received from Digital Vibes.
The Daily Maverick’s investigative unit, Scorpio, previously revealed that Digital Vibes purchased a second-hand Toyota Land Cruiser for Mkhize’s son around the same time the health department transferred about R50 million to the company for its services.
Mkhize has always maintained his innocence in the scandal, saying he did not personally benefit from the contract even though his family could have.
‘Final nail in the coffin’
DA MP and spokesperson on health, Siviwe Gwarube, on Friday said Ramaphosa could no longer dither on the future of Mkhize as health minister.
She said the SIU’s affidavit to the Special Tribunal had 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 said in a statement.
Gwarube said this was the “final nail in the coffin for Mkhize” now that the public knows what is in the report.
“We also welcome the move by the SIU to recoup the millions in public funds wasted on the Digital Vibes contract. This is another step closer to accountability for those involved in this scandal,” she said.
“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.”
Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe