The Political Dictionary defines “plausible deniability” as “the ability to deny any involvement in illegal or unethical activities, because there is no clear evidence to prove involvement. The lack of evidence makes the denial credible, or plausible”.
Perhaps that is one of the reasons that former health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize is not being referred for criminal prosecution in the Digital Vibes scandal, in which more than R150 million, intended for health communication programmes, was misappropriated.
The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has effectively thrown former acting health department director-general Anban Pillay “under the bus” because the evidence against him is, apparently, more substantial.
However, in doing so, the SIU also implied that the former minister may have used his influence to persuade people like Pillay to act in a criminal manner.
And that is the essence of plausible deniability: you remain at arm’s length while still in the sleaze up to your neck.
Mkhize must not be allowed to get away with this. There is enough evidence that he, or his family, benefitted from the taxpayer money, to at least justify opening a criminal inquiry.
If that does not happen, then all the ANC’s vows to end corruption are just so much hot air.